I bet my flush beats yours?

I bet my flush beats yours?

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Treatment
Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) can sometimes present with one or more vague symptoms which occasionally results in a lengthy diagnostic phase for some.  Sure, there can be issues with doctor experience and knowledge that can add to the problem. However, some people do present with multiple vague and confusing symptoms and some people have comorbidities that have similar symptoms.  Textbook diagnostics just don't make sense, sometimes even when the doctor suspects a NET i.e. classic symptoms of 'something' but with negative markers for NETs. Clearly, those are extreme cases and just like other complex diseases, many diagnoses of NET can be extremely challenging.  Even for an experienced doctor, it can be a difficult jigsaw!Most types of NET can have associated 'syndrome' i.e. the tumours are 'functional' and this is normally (but not always)…
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PRRT and the NHS England Cancer Drugs Fund (now archived information)

Treatment
[caption id="attachment_3922" align="aligncenter" width="425"] cost cutting vs life cutting?[/caption] Please note this post is now historic information - PRRT (Lutathera) was eventually approved for use in UK.  See the following post for the very latest on PRRT worldwide - CLICK HERE I was extremely disappointed to learn of the decision to remove PRRT (Lutetium or Yttrium) from the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).  You can read the detail of the decision here: CDF Statement.  PRRT has regularly been described by NET specialists and patients as the "magic bullet" due to its potential to shrink or kill tumours.  This is the second Neuroendocrine Cancer treatment to be withdrawn this year, after the earlier decision on Everolimus (Afinitor) in April . In fact, the recent cuts to the CDF were described in the…
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I look well but you should see my insides

I look well but you should see my insides

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
I'm sat next to patients waiting on their chemotherapy treatment - the "Chemo Ward" sign above the door gives it away.  I'm here for my 28-day cycle injection of Lanreotide which will hopefully keep my Neuroendocrine Tumours at bay.  I look all around; the temporary beds and the waiting room are full and all I can see are people who don't look as well as I do.  Some have hats or bandanas partly disguising the loss of hair. I feel for them. No matter how many visits I make, I can't help feeling out of place in a Cancer ward. I'm not sure why I feel like this; after all, I've had some very scary surgery and I've been having treatment since 2010. However, this thought doesn't seem to balance it…
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‘Chinese Dumplings’ and Neuroendocrine Cancer

Treatment
One of my daily alerts brought up this very interesting article published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology last month (June 2015).  I personally found it fascinating. Moreover, it gave me some hope that specialists are out there looking for novel treatments to help with the difficult fight against Neuroendocrine Cancer.This is an article about something generally described as "Intra-operative Chemotherapy", i.e. the administration of chemo during surgery.  This isn't any old article - this is written by someone who is very well-known in Neuroendocrine Cancer circles - Dr. Yi-Zarn Wang.March 2022: Note Dr Wang has a new post.“I am now in Permian Basin-Odessa Midland Texas as the new Program Director of a new general surgery residency program. I have officially joined the faculty of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center on…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Article 2 – Gastrointestinal Malabsorption

Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Article 2 – Gastrointestinal Malabsorption

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
This is the second article in the Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition series. In the first article, I focused on Vitamin and Mineral deficiency risks for patients and there is a big overlap with the subject of Gastrointestinal Malabsorption. Those who remember the content will have spotted the risks pertaining to the inability to absorb particular vitamins and minerals. This comes under the general heading of Malabsorption and in Neuroendocrine Cancer patients, this can be caused or exacerbated by one or more of a number of factors relating to their condition. It's also worth pointing out that malabsorption issues can be caused by other reasons unrelated to NETs. Additionally, malabsorption and nutrient deficiency issues can form part of the presenting symptoms which eventually lead to a diagnosis of Neuroendocrine Cancer; e.g. in my own case,…
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Surgery is risky but so is driving a car

Surgery is risky but so is driving a car

Survivorship, Treatment
I enjoyed reading an article written by Dr Eric Liu entitled The Complications of Surgery. In his article, Dr Liu, himself a surgeon, explains that surgery comes with risks, and patients should be made aware and be able to discuss these risks with their doctors. This got me thinking about my own experience which goes back to the autumn of 2010 when I first met my surgeon. At that time, there were a few articles about whether surgery or 'biochemistry' was the best treatment for certain types, grades and stages of Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs).To some extent, these debates continue, particularly for pancreatic NETs. Surgery for certain NETs in certain scenarios is a controversial issue for NETs - as outlined in this article - to cut or not to cut. I've…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – don’t break my heart!

Neuroendocrine Cancer – don’t break my heart!

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
Neuroendocrine Cancer has certain unique features whereby tumours can produce one or more symptoms which are known collectively as a syndrome.  Neuroendocrine Tumours secreting excess amounts of serotonin, can be accompanied by Carcinoid Syndrome which if not diagnosed and treated early enough, can lead to an additional complication known as Hedinger Syndrome (often known as Carcinoid Heart Disease (CHD)). However, very late diagnoses can present with CHD already in place.Excess serotonin, a hormone released by NETs into the bloodstream seems to be the prime and lead suspect for causing thick ‘plaques’ or fibrosis tissue within the heart muscle and damage to (mainly) the tricuspid and pulmonary valves on the right side of the heart which can become ‘tightly narrowed’ or ‘leaky’.  It's very similar to the reasons for mesenteric and peritoneal fibrosis…
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Chasing normality

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
Cancer isn’t always a one-time event. It can be a chronic (ongoing) illness, much like diabetes or heart disease. Cancer can be closely watched and treated, but sometimes it never completely goes away. The cancer may be 'controlled' with treatment, meaning it might seem to go away or stay the same, and it doesn’t grow or spread as long as you are getting appropriate treatment. Sometimes the treatment shrinks the cancer, but the cancer is still there – it doesn’t go away and stay away – it’s not cured.  More people are living with cancer than ever before and the ratio is on the increase thanks to better treatments. For the first 18 months following my diagnosis, I underwent a significant number of treatments and tests.  As I continue living with my cancer, that tempo doesn’t…
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Chemotherapy for Neuroendocrine Cancer

Chemotherapy for Neuroendocrine Cancer

Treatment
Edited and checked December 2022One of the unusual aspects of Neuroendocrine Cancer is that chemotherapy is not normally considered as a 'standard' or first-line treatment, unlike many other cancers. One exception is high grade (Grade 3) where it is very often a first and/or second-line therapy. This is particularly the case with poorly differentiated Neuroendocrine disease, by default labelled as Neuroendocrine Carcinoma (NEC). Many people think Chemotherapy has a short life span due to recent advances in medical science, some citing Immunotherapy as its replacement. However, it's far too early to write off chemotherapy which is still used in many scenarios and remains a tool in the arsenal of treatments for many cancer types and is predicted to do for some time yet. See more informed reporting about this below.Interest point…
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Surgery for NETs – Chop Chop

Surgery for NETs – Chop Chop

Treatment
At the end of 2014, I was feeling pretty good celebrating 4 years since my first 'big' surgery in 2010. It prompted me to write an article Surgery - the gift that keeps on giving. In that particlar article, I really just wanted to say I was grateful for the early surgical treatment and as I was just about to spend another Christmas with my family, I was reminiscing what a wonderful gift it was at the time. Other than some detail of the surgery, I didn't get too technical, I just wanted to generate a thankful and festive mood. However, a recent private message from a subscriber prompted me to study the current benefits of surgery for Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) in more detail just to ensure my understanding was still in line with best practice. …
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Well done NHS!

Well done NHS!

Treatment
I've been reasonably lucky with my health over the years, suffering only the usual common ailments. I was slightly asthmatic as a child but this seemed to disappear when I left school going straight into military service. They say an army marches on its stomach... only partly true but the military did look after my health with regular check ups. I think the only medical emergency I had in my 29 years in that wonderful organisation was being knocked out in boxing training aged 16! When I left the military in 2001, I was fortunate to benefit from free health insurance at my new employers. However, I was now at an age where there was a bit of 'wear and tear' and bits were starting to fall off.  I had…
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The Mother of all Surgeries

The Mother of all Surgeries

Treatment
[caption id="attachment_2338" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Surgery[/caption] My plan for this week's blog was to continue with a surgery theme using the story of a lady who had what was described as the "Mother of all Surgeries" after being late diagnosed with a very rare and advanced type of appendiceal cancer. With NETs, surgery is a topical subject as not everyone will be able to have it and some might not even need it. Check out my blog "to cut or not to cut". I suggested in a previous blog that 'Surgery is a gift that keeps on giving' and that is probably true for many cancer survivors. However, I then added that NETs were one of a small number of tumours for which surgical debulking can provide some survival advantage for those with metastatic and incurable disease. In my own case, I've…
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Surgery – the gift that keeps on giving

Survivorship, Treatment
As we approach NET Cancer Day, my thoughts return to 9 Nov 2010. I had been diagnosed with metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer a few months before and told it was incurable. However, with 'debulking' surgery, my Oncologist said my prognosis could be significantly improved. I now know from my own research that Neuroendocrine Tumours are one of a small number of cancers for which surgical debulking confers some survival advantage.  Another term used at the time was 'cytoreductive' surgery which means 'to control symptoms and improve survival by removing or destroying disseminated tumour metastases'.  Less neuroendocrine tumours should result in lower secretions of specific hormones which in turn should decrease the effects of Carcinoid Syndrome from which I was suffering at presentation.  I'm still alive and kicking and don't feel too…
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I woke up on World Neuroendocrine Cancer Day

I woke up on World Neuroendocrine Cancer Day

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
1 year after 2 x surgery Macmillan Cancer Support featured this post CKN featured this post 5 years after 3 surgeries 10 years after diagnosis 12 years after first surgery Macmillan Cancer Support featured this post CKN featured this post It was 10th November 2010 just after midnight. I gradually woke up after a marathon 9-hour surgery - the first of what was to be several visits to an operating theatre. The last thing I remembered before going 'under' was the voices of the surgical staff. When I woke up, I remember it being dark and I appeared to be constrained and pinned down by the dozen or so tubes going in and out of my weak and battered body.  I can still remember the feeling today; it was like…
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Diagnostic Challenges

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Treatment
I was checking my statistics this morning and found the most viewed post to date was published on the day Stephen Sutton passed away.   I didn't really want to jump onto the Stephen Sutton bandwagon but when I found on the day of his passing that it had taken 6 months to diagnose his bowel cancer, I knew this would be relevant to Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness, particularly important as it's one of the primary aims of my blog.  I'm thinking the top viewing score to date is not because it mentioned Stephen Sutton (sad as that event was) but because the issues he faced are well known to Neuroendocrine Cancer patients, many of whom are readers. In the past week, the newspapers have published several follow up articles on…
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My treatment is a pain in the butt!

My treatment is a pain in the butt!

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Treatment
This header is a bit 'tongue in cheek' (....did you see what I did there?)  I'm very happy to have this treatment every 4 weeks - I can think of far worse scenarios.  When I was first diagnosed, the dreaded word 'Chemo' was discussed.  Actually, Chemo isn't particularly effective in treating Neuroendocrine Cancer, although I've heard of cases where it has made a difference. Today's letter is 'L' and there are a few. Lanreotide This is currently my mainstay treatment and I look forward to it once every 4 weeks.  It is injected 'deep subcutaneous' in the upper outer quadrant of the buttock. Prior to my diagnosis, I was a tad squeamish when it came to injections, even the smallest would make me cringe and I couldn't bear to watch…
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Who needs a gallblader anyway?

Who needs a gallblader anyway?

Diet and Nutrition, Treatment
We can survive without a gallbladder, but clearly it is a useful, functioning organ, and we are better off to keep it if we can. There are times when things can go wrong such as gallstones, sludge and blocked ducts, and then it may need to be removed. However……even though there wasn’t really anything wrong with my gallbladder in 2010/2011, I was convinced it had to go. You may have read previously that I receive a monthly injection of Somatuline Autogel (Lanreotide) which keeps me well.  The Lanreotide patient leaflet clearly states "Lanreotide may reduce gallbladder motility and lead to gallstone formation. Therefore, patients may need to be monitored periodically. There have been post-marketing reports of gallstones resulting in complications, including cholecystitis, cholangitis, and pancreatitis, requiring cholecystectomy in patients taking lanreotide. Fairly certain I could find a similar statement on the Octreotide leaflet. I also searched for studies and…
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