Neuroendocrine Cancer: Diagnosing the Undiagnosed

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Diagnosing the Undiagnosed

Patient Advocacy
Neuroendocrine Cancer is one of a number of "difficult to diagnose" conditions. Many types of Neuroendocrine Cancer come with an associated syndrome and these syndromes can mimic everyday illnesses. In many cases, people don't even feel ill while the tumours grow. Most types of this cancer are slow-growing but there are also aggressive versions. Although things appear to be improving in diagnostic terms, it can sometimes take years for someone to be finally diagnosed correctly and get treatment, albeit in some cases, too late for any hope of a curative scenario. It's a very sneaky type of cancer and if left too long it can be life threatening - CLICK HERE to find out why.The road to a diagnosis of Neuroendocrine Cancer is often not straight or easy to navigate.…
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ASCO 2017 – Let’s talk about NETs #ASCO17

ASCO 2017 – Let’s talk about NETs #ASCO17

Clinical Trials
ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) is one of the biggest cancer conferences in the world normally bringing together more than 30,000 oncology professionals from around the world to discuss state-of-the-art treatment modalities, new therapies, and ongoing controversies in the field.  As Neuroendorine Tumors is on a roll in terms of new treatments and continued research, we appear to be well represented with over 20 'extracts' submitted for review and display.  This is fairly complex stuff but much of it will be familiar to many.  I've filtered and extracted all the Neuroendocrine stuff into one list providing you with an easy to peruse table of contents, complete with relevant linkages if you need to read more.  For many the extract title and conclusion will be sufficiently educational or at least…
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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
I have been posting this every year on last Thursday in November and I kept forgetting that other countries other than USA (and Territories of the United States) also do Thanksgiving but mostly on different dates. This includes (but is probably not limited to): Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Liberia, Saint Lucia, Leiden (Netherlands), Norfolk Island (Australia).   I hope you all had/have a great Thanksgiving Day! Turkey and SleepNow ........ I hate to stereotype but I guess a lot of you might be eating turkeyon Thanksgiving Day?  No Thanksgiving is complete without a turkey at the table (... so I'm told!).  And also, a nap right after it’s eaten..... right?As you know I like to analyse such things ...... Apparently, the meat has a bad reputation for making eaters sleepy, but is there…
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Palliative Care – it might just save your life

Palliative Care – it might just save your life

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
When you've been diagnosed with cancer at an incurable stage, certain words start to mean more. Take 'palliative' for example.  Before I was diagnosed, I had always associated the word 'palliative' with someone who had a terminal disease, and this type of care was to make the final days/weeks as comfortable as possible. So, it was a bit of a shock to find out in 2010 that my treatment was palliative in nature. However, I'm still not dead and I'm still receiving palliative care. Go figure! The answer is simple - the cancer story is changing. What was once feared as a death sentence is now an illness in which many people survive. As survival rates increase, so too will the number of people who live with the legacy of…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels

Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels

Patient Advocacy
BackgroundI think most people have had a form of medical testing at some point in their life, i.e. the sampling and testing of blood, urine, saliva, stool or body tissue. In a nutshell, the medical staff are just measuring the content of a 'substance' and then taking a view whether this is normal or not based on pre-determined ranges. These tests are normally done as a physician's reaction to symptom presentation or maintenance/surveillance of an existing diagnosed condition. Sometimes, abnormal results will lead to more specialist tests.In cancer, these tests are frequently called 'markers'. Most tumour markers are made by normal cells as well as by cancer cells; however, they are produced at much higher levels in cancerous conditions. These substances can be found in the blood, urine, stool, tumour tissue,…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – the diarrhea jigsaw

Neuroendocrine Cancer – the diarrhea jigsaw

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Diarrhea can be a symptom of many conditions, but it is particularly key in Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) Syndromes and types, in particular, Carcinoid Syndrome but also in those associated with various other NET types such as VIPoma, PPoma, Gastrinoma, Somatostatinoma, Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma.Secondly, it can be a key consequence (side effect) of the treatment for Neuroendocrine Tumours and Carcinomas, in particular following surgery where various bits of the gastrointestinal tract are excised to remove and/or debulk tumour load.There are other reasons that might be causing or contributing, including (but not limited to) endocrine problems such as hyperthryoidism, mastocytosis or Addison's disease (which may be secondary illnesses in those with NETs). It's also possible that 'non-sydromic' issues such as stress and diet are contributing. It could be caused by other things…
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Serotonin – the NET effect

Serotonin – the NET effect

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
picture shows an actual serotonin receptor BackgroundI'd never heard of Serotonin until I was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer in 2010. It is frequently discussed, often with contrasting views from the respondents. One common assumption/question is that it is responsible for many things that can go wrong with Neuroendocrine Cancer patients who have serotonin-producing tumours. To a certain extent, that's true but statement such as "it's the hormones" is an easy assumption to make; or an easy answer to give in response to a complex set of circumstances. It's difficult to get a definitive answer and the science behind the behaviour of our hormones isn't really 100% tied down - the human body is extremely complex.You may see serotonin referred to as a 'neurotransmitter', a 'chemical' and a 'hormone' - this…
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The 5 E’s (of Carcinoid Syndrome)

The 5 E’s (of Carcinoid Syndrome)

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Since my diagnosis, I seem to have been in a perpetual learning phase! What not to do, what not to eat, what not to read! However, early on in my experience, I came across a list of 'E' words (5 of them) which is a handy reminder for Carcinoid Syndrome patients, particularly those whose symptoms are not under control. When I say "carcinoid syndrome" in this article, I only mean the syndrome that is caused by what was once called "Carcinoid Tumors", i.e. mainly serotonin secreting types but include tumours which are well differentiated found in the small intestine, appendiceal, rectal, lung, and one or two other less common places. There are many variations of this list, but this is my take! I suspect some of this also applies to…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – my liver surgery

Neuroendocrine Cancer – my liver surgery

Treatment
Laparoscopic Surgery ("Keyhole") From day 1 of my diagnosis, I knew my liver was going to need some attention, but I had always known that total removal of all tumours would not be possible - the diagnostic scan confirmed I had an incurable disease. This critical organ did in fact produce the biopsy confirming Neuroendocrine Cancer. The early scans indicated multiple liver lesions and an Octreotide scan reported several with quite avid isotope activity. However, as you can see from my clinical history, they first stabilised my syndrome via daily Octreotide so my tumours were subdued ready for major surgery which took place Nov 2010 - I wrote about this as Part 1 and Part 2 stories. As we are talking about my liver, it's worth noting that a bland…
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Lanreotide – it’s calling the shots!

Lanreotide – it’s calling the shots!

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
On 9th December 2020, I celebrated 10 years of Lanreotide - click here to read about that.My Lanreotide ExperienceWhen I was discharged from hospital following major surgery in Nov 2010, I knew I would shortly be commencing long-term monthly 'somatostatin analogue' treatment and had assumed Octreotide (Sandostatin LAR) would be the drug of choice. However, my Oncologist prescribed Lanreotide (known in the UK as Somatuline Autogel and elsewhere as Somatuline Depot).  Technically this is a hormone therapy (it's not chemo).Somatostatin Analogues (Octreotide/Lanreotide) are mainstay treatments for many Neuroendocrine Cancer patients and their introduction is a very significant factor in the improvement of both prognostic outcomes and quality of life.  Both drugs are designed to control Carcinoid Syndrome (but can be used selectively in other NET syndromes) and both have anti-tumour effects.  Check out…
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The Syndromes of Neuroendocrine Cancer – Early Signs of a Late Diagnosis

The Syndromes of Neuroendocrine Cancer – Early Signs of a Late Diagnosis

Awareness
One of the curious things about Neuroendocrine Cancer (NETs elsewhere in the text) is that it can very often exhibit one or more vague symptoms collectively known as a 'syndrome'.  Syndrome is an apt word to describe these complications as the most general meaning in medical terms is a group of symptoms that together are characteristic of a specific disorder or disease".  Having a syndrome can often be the difference between having a 'functional' condition or a non-functional' condition - see more below.This frequently makes Neuroendocrine Cancer very difficult to diagnose quickly.  It's a very devious disease.It's NOT all about Carcinoid Syndrome!Most people think of Carcinoid Syndrome when they discuss NETs. Anyone suggesting that all NET patients get carcinoid syndrome or that all symptoms of NETs are caused by carcinoid…
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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 5 years after 3 surgeries 10 years after diagnosis 11 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 I was pinned to the bed and I was completely…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – Horrible Hormones

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Horrible Hormones

Patient Advocacy
Hormonal imbalances are quite common in many conditions including day to day stuff. With Neuroendocrine Cancer, it can be a real challenge both at diagnostic and maintenance phases.  In addition to the cancer angle, there's some strange stuff going on, inexplicable, frightening for the patient, an unwanted ingredient causing chaos!Until I was diagnosed with metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer, I didn't have a clue about hormones - it's one of those things you just take for granted. However, hormones are vital to human health (male and female) and it's only when things go wrong you suddenly appreciate how important they are.  Hormones are involved in many conditions, not just an issue with Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) but the presence of over-secreting hormones (often called peptides throughout) is useful to aid a diagnosis, albeit…
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