Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours – surgical decisions and new research on molecular sub-types



I offer you two subjects in one article but they are overlapping and very related. The piece of research in the 2nd half of the article is very exciting – did you know researchers have found there are two main sub-types of pNETs, one less likely to recur and metastasise than the other? This will hopefully lead to similar research in other types of Neuroendocrine Neoplasm.

Background 

I’ve written before about pancreatic NETs (pNETs), much of which has been on the awareness side of my advocacy work, particularly emphasising the differences with core Pancreatic Cancer (adenocarcinoma).

Pancreatic NETs are quite difficult to diagnose and treat, some of that difficulty is due to the location of the pancreas and accessibility for surgeons and radiographers. It’s not helped by the fact that most pNETs are non-functional making diagnosis more difficult as there is little clinical suspicion to scan, but also results in more late diagnoses.

Although biopsies are possible, mainly via endoscopic ultrasound or laparoscopy, it can still be difficult to reach.  In some cases biopsies are not done until after surgical removal of tumours. The latter scenario plus surgery after a positive biopsy result does present an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.  Consequently physicians (and patients) often have difficult decisions to make.   I discussed some of these issues in my article “To cut or not to cut” which covers all types of NETs, but it’s particularly relevant to pNETs

To cut or not to cut

There are guidelines for treatment of pNETs and most seem to have tumour size thresholds to aid decision making but that is just one factor.   I’ve listened to many presentations by NET specialists talking about the dilemma of cutting or not cutting and the ‘debate’ is still happening 3 years since I took an interest in the subject.  Most guidelines seem to use 2cm as a threshold for surgical removal (>2cm) or watch and wait (<2cm) but there are other factors which could also indicate surgical removal such as a functioning tumour producing one of the pNET syndromes (i.e. palliative surgery) or the tumour threatening important vessels (i.e. pre-emptive surgery).  These guidelines include ENETS, NANETS and NCCN.  Currently it’s difficult for physicians to know how aggressive a pNET could become over time and this hinders decision making.

For those interested in this debate, you may like a recent article from the 2019 Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Cancer Symposium where Cristina R. Ferrone, MD, the surgical director of the liver program in the Division of General Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, and Peter J. Allen, MD, the chief of surgical oncology at Duke Cancer Institute, in Durham, N.C., describe the benefits of resection versus observation in small neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas and outlined the risks of under- and over-treatment, respectively.  Click here.

Better and more accurate prognostic data is required to help therapy decisions

What we really need is more information from biopsies and blood tests to help make the right decisions.  I’ve been watching articles discussing the use of liquid biopsies (essentially a blood test) which not only provide the conventional biopsy information but also molecular DNA measurements which an lead to data analysis indicating prognostic trends in those with particular levels. For example, in one study for Pancreatic Cancer, higher levels of plasma Cell-free nucleic acid (cfNAs) were found to significantly correlate with metastasis and recurrences.  Work continues on liquid biopsies for many different cancer types, in some cases multiple types.

Latest Neuroendocrine research 2019

In a study sponsored by the NET Research Foundation, researchers used molecular analytic methods to describe new subtypes of pNETs that differ in the expression of specific regulatory proteins and found that the differences correlated with the risk of recurrence following surgical treatment. The regulatory proteins ARX and PDX1 are epigenetic modifiers that are involved in development of the pancreas.

The scientists found that tumors whose cells exclusively expressed the protein ARX had more than a 35% risk of recurrence following surgery, compared to less than a 5% risk if the tumor lacked ARX but expressed PDX1. Among study participants whose tumors showed high ARX levels, cancers recurred in the liver within 1 to 4 years, compared to the rare recurrence of tumors that expressed PDX1.

Dr. Shivdasani and his colleagues studied molecular findings first in about a dozen pNETs and then analyzed the molecular profiles of another 142 pNET specimens. They found that about half of the pNETs expressed the regulatory protein ARX and resembled normal alpha cells in the pancreas, whereas the other half expressed the PDX1 regulatory protein and resembled normal beta pancreatic cells. The presence or absence of those proteins was strongly correlated with outcomes: among 103 cases the researchers studied, distant metastatic relapses occurred almost exclusively in patients whose tumors expressed the ARX protein but not the PDX1 protein.

“This robust molecular stratification provides insight into cell lineage correlates of nonfunctional pNETs, accurately predicts disease course, and can inform postoperative clinical decisions,” the authors wrote.

On the basis of these findings, said Dr. Shivdasani, pathologists could easily test specimens of pNET tumors to classify them as type A (expressing ARX) or type B (expressing PDX1). “Now you can tell patients with type B that their recurrence risk after surgery is very small…,” said Dr. Shivdasani. For patients whose tumors are type A, with a higher risk of recurrence, close follow-up could be undertaken to detect new metastases, which may be treatable with chemotherapy or other methods.

To summarise this really important piece of research, the key points are:

  • Tumors whose cells exclusively expressed the protein ARX had more than a 35% risk of recurrence following surgery, compared to less than a 5% risk if the tumor lacked ARX but expressed another regulatory protein, PDX1.
  • Among study participants whose tumors showed high ARX levels, cancers recurred in the liver within 1 to 4 years, compared to the rare recurrence of tumors that expressed PDX1.
  • Distant metastatic relapses occurred almost exclusively in patients whose tumors expressed the ARX protein but not the PDX1 protein

These proteins can be measured by standard biopsy stains as used by pathologists in determining conventional prognostic data such as Ki67 and differentiation.  At this time, there is no plans to introduce a new stain and routinely measure all pNET biopsies.  It’s also envisaged that larger trials would need to be completed before such a change could happen.  Nonetheless, this is very positive news.

Hopefully similar research will follow on other types of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms.

Thanks for reading.

In addition to linked articles above, resources used to compile this article:

1. Subtypes of Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors and Effect on Disease Recurrence – By The ASCO Post, posted: 15 Jul 2019.

2. Robust molecular stratification provides insights into cell lineage correlates –  By ESMO posted 09 Jul 2019.

3. NET Research Blog – NETRF-Funded Finding May Help Predict Pancreatic NET (pNET) Recurrence posted 1 Jul 2019.

4. Surgeons Debate Management of Small Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors. Resect or Observe? – By Clinical Oncology News posted 17 Jul 2019.

 

Ronny

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Ronny Allan – Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer Blog – A MILLION views

I’m totally astonished to have been able to accumulate a million views of my blog. When I first set it up in Apr 2014, it was just to help spread awareness whilst I was walking the 84 miles of Hadrian’s Wall with my wife Chris. I never thought for one minute I would still be doing it today reaching one million hits and accumulating over 14,000 followers across all my social media sites.  This is an update of an article from 7 March 2018 when I passed the 500,000 mark – so that is a staggering half a million views in 15 months to double that tally.  All thanks to you!

 

 

 

My key aims are international level awareness, advocacy, campaigning, and support for NET patients via all my social media accounts. I’m not your regular NET advocate and I do things differently. However, I’m fairly certain that specific fact has played a part in getting to this stage.

People often ask me how I’ve been able to build up my sites and it’s a difficult question because I’m not totally sure what happened!  I just put my head down and attacked the task in my usual tenacious way – so I guess that’s part of my sub-conscious and inbuilt strategy.  I did write an article about my blog journey for WEGO Health for those interested – read here

My blog is pretty central to my activities and through this medium and some others, I’ve really invented my own brand of Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness without following the crowd. I pride myself on my independence which allows me the freedom of movement I need. So far I’ve managed to win two international awards breaking through into new areas for awareness.  In 2016, I won the WEGO Health Best in Show Community followed by Best in Show Blog in 2018, and also made the finalists in several others.  I might take a break from the 2019 awards!

Other Advocate Activities

I’ve also spoken at many events and to pharma only audiences including Ipsen Global Paris, Ipsen UK, Ipsen Germany, Ono Pharma UK, Royal Marsden Hospital, Wales NET Patient Foundation, PLANETS Southampton, Eye for Pharma London 2018, EUHIC Berlin 2018, Society and College of Radiographers (due Oct 2019). 

I’m also a contributor to Cure Magazine although only two articles published to date (see my signature block below)

Other invitations include the making of an education video for Lex Pharma, helping to create and featured in Ipsen‘s patient support website Living with NETs, a photo shoot for a Macmillan Cancer internet campaign, a photo and video shoot for Ipsen as a member of the European Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) (link to follow when published).  I’ve also been featured and/or mentioned in numerous other locations – read my blog site home page to read more.

Board Membership

I’m a member of the following boards:

2019 WEGO Health Patient Advisory Boardclick here to see my WEGO profile.

2.  ONO Pharma UK Patient Advisory Board (to follow if publishable)

3. Multi-Med Inc Strategic Advisory Boardclick here.

My main sites are here:

Blog – ronnyallan.NETClick here.

Twitter – @ronnyallan1 and @netcancerblog

Facebook – I have numerous accounts:

      • NET Cancer Blog (my main site with around 8000 followers as at June 2019) – click here and ‘Like’
      • Ronny Allan – additional output – click here and ‘Like’

Newsletter – extending the reach into wider areas via a daily newsletter from twitter and other sources. click here to subscribe.

Instagram – click here to follow

Private Facebook Group (Educational focus) – I also have a private Facebook group which the fastest growing group in the NET community  – click here to join (don’t forget to answer the questions).

Many of you who read this will already be on these sites so please ‘Follow’ or ‘Like’ as appropriate – be careful you don’t ‘Unfollow’ or ‘Unlike’.

There are so many other sources of routes into my blog and I’m grateful to the many patient advocate organisations, patient advocates, the healthcare community in general and many, many, more. If you’re reading this, thank you so much.

Patients Included

Everything I do is about patients and my site is accredited as “Patients Included”. That means everything has to have patient input.

Please also note:
All information provided on any of my social media accounts does not constitute professional medical advice. See my disclaimer here: DISCLAIMER

Message me here: http://m.me/NETCancerBlog

Thanks for reading

Ronny

Thanks for listening

 

Phase 1 clinical trial of single agent PV-10 for the treatment of symptomatic neuroendocrine tumors (NET) metastatic to the liver

An interesting trial from Provectus Biopharmaceuticals Inc.  Phase 1 results were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2019 Annual Meeting, held in Chicago, IL from May 31-June 4, 2019

In an ogoing Phase 1 clinical trial of single agent PV-10 for the treatment of symptomatic neuroendocrine tumors (NET) metastatic to the liver. Intralesional injection of oncolytic immunotherapy PV-10 can yield immunogenic cell death in solid tumor cancers that results in tumor-specific reactivity in circulating T cells. PV-10 clinical development includes cutaneous melanoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, and metastatic liver cancers such as uveal melanoma in single-agent and combination therapy settings.

What is PV-10?

Described above as “Oncolytic Immunotherapy” but elsewhere as “Ablative Immunotherapy”, the latter indicates the method of administering the therapy i.e. tumour ablation.  It’s more well known for trials in treating Melanoma where tumour ablation (albeit subcutaneous) is more common as a treatment.

Scientific Description: PV-10 causes acute oncolytic destruction of injected tumors, releasing damage associated molecular pattern molecules (DAMPs) and tumor antigens that initiate an immunologic cascade where local response by the innate immune system facilitates systemic anti-tumor immunity by the adaptive immune system. The DAMP release-mediated adaptive immune response activates lymphocytes, including CD8+ T cells, CD4+ T cells, and NKT cells, based on clinical and preclinical experience in multiple tumor types. T cell function can be further augmented by combining PV-10 with immune checkpoint inhibition.  Sometimes it’s known as its short name “Rose Bengal“.

What is ‘Rose Bengal’?

It’s actually a 135 year old chemical stain, originally discovered in 1882, and for more than half a century used as a dye in cancer diagnosis.

Rose Bengal, in a 10% solution known as PV-10, has displayed greatest promise in the treatment of melanoma, where it was shown in an 80-patient Phase II trial to achieve a complete response rate in 50% of patients’ tumours and an overall response in 71%. A bystander effect was also seen in untreated lesions, suggesting a positive immune response, although it was more effective when all lesions were injected with PV-10.

Scientific Description: PV-10’s active pharmaceutical ingredient is rose bengal disodium (RB) (4,5,6,7-tetrachloro-2’,4’,5’,7’-tetraiodofluorescein disodium salt), a small molecule halogenated xanthene. PV-10 drug product is a bright rose red solution containing 10% w/v RB in 0.9% saline for injection, which is supplied in single-use glass vials containing 5 mL (to deliver) of solution and administered without dilution to solid tumors via intratumoral injection.

What is the trial doing and where is the trial located?

This single-center Phase 1 study is being conducted at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, Australia to evaluate the potential safety, tolerability, and preliminary efficacy of PV-10 in metastatic NET patients (NCT02693067). The primary endpoint for the trial is safety, and secondary endpoints include objective response rate (ORR) of injected target and measurable bystander lesions, target lesion somatostatin receptor expression, and biochemical response. Six patients in the first cohort each received one percutaneously-administered injection of PV-10 to one target lesion per treatment cycle. Patients in the second cohort can receive PV-10 injection of multiple lesions per cycle (2 of 6 patients in the second cohort have received at least one cycle of PV-10 thus far).

Results of Cohort 1 as follows:

Cohort 1 has fully enrolled, with 4 of 6 subjects male, median age 65yrs, range 47-72. Primary sites were: small bowel 3, pancreas 2, caecal 1; grade: Gd1 = 5, Gd2 = 1. All patients received prior Somatostatin Analogues (SSA) and PRRT. Median CgA was 645 (range 30-2819). To date 1 subject has received 4 PV-10 treatment cycles, 1 has received 2 cycles, and 4 have received a single cycle. Toxicity has been acceptable, including pain post procedure, carcinoid flare and nausea. LFT’s have remained stable. Overall QOL score was stable for 5 of 6 subjects. ORR in injected lesions is 50% (progression in 1 subject), with overall disease control of 84%. CgA response: 5 stable, 1 progression. One subject with “carcinoid pellagra” had rash resolution. Response follow-up is ongoing and additional efficacy and functional data will be presented. Hepatic IL PV-10 elicited no safety concerns with encouraging evidence of both local and systemic disease control. Enrolment to Cohort 2 is underway

Further reading:

The NET Clinical Trial document: click here

The ASCO poster for the NET trial: click here

ASCO trial update: click here

Thanks for listening

 

I’m not sick, I just have cancer

Opinion. I receive many messages from people across the world. Recently, one person asked me if I saw myself as a sick person. I found it a really interesting question because someone with cancer must be sick, right?

When I was diagnosed, I really didn’t feel unwell, not enough to consider myself a ‘sick person’. Prior to that, I suppose like everyone else on the planet, I had normal day-to-day stuff come along but that always settled in days or weeks. But never enough to call myself a sick person other than as a temporary label. Quite often I would ignore the illness and continue working and also continue normal day to day activities. In hindsight, some of these issues might have been connected to my cancer but that’s the nature of medicine sometimes. I try not to reflect too much on what might have been.

Even after diagnosis of advanced and incurable cancer, I still didn’t feel unwell and continued to work and go on holiday. Chris and I jetted off eight weeks after the diagnosis, there was a nice gap right in between starting daily octreotide and a liver embolisation. OK the subsequent procedures and surgeries I had were tough and I guess if you looked at me lying in a hospital bed with a dozen pipes going in and out of my body, you would quite rightly assume I was a sick person. But as I said above, it’s only ever been a temporary label because when I was stronger, I went back to work, continued going on holiday and continued going about my life in a relatively normal fashion. I’m not special or unique as millions of cancer patients do something similar. Sure, I made changes, but sick or not, don’t we all make adjustments to suit changes in circumstance?

Despite the furore that erupts in reaction to the ubiquitous invisible illness clichés we see, I don’t really mind ‘looking well’, I mean who wants to look unwell? I’m very happy to look well, and very happy to feel well. I’m not seeking pity or victim status by demanding people to say that I have to look unwell simply because I have cancer. While we’re on the subject of labels, I have cancer but please don’t call me a ‘sufferer’ – I’m far from being a sufferer, an old-fashioned term for those with illness and I’m thankful to see less use of the term today.

I can’t undo my diagnosis of advanced and incurable cancer and I refuse to retreat into a corner feeling sorry for myself.  I have cancer but I can still get on with living my life.

Thanks for reading

Ronny

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Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

Ronny Allan is an award winning patient leader and advocate for Neuroendocrine Cancer.

 

Neuroendocrine Cancer: No one gets it until they get it


Over the years of my advocating, I’ve tried to explain Neuroendocrine Cancer to many people outside the community.  Some ‘get it’ but many don’t.  Most understand ‘Cancer’, they have real difficultly understanding ‘Neuroendocrine‘.  Despite how hard I try, I can see that some of them just don’t get it!

One of the challenges of explaining Neuroendocrine Cancer is the sheer complexity and spectrum of types. It’s a heterogeneous grouping of cancers ranging from some quite indolent versions through to very aggressive versions similar to many dangerous adenocarcinomas.  Unlike many of the more understood cancers, Neuroendocrine Cancer can literally appear anywhere in the body, adding to an already complex description, in addition to creating a disadvantage of awareness opportunities because of the use of incorrect cancer types, clearly many doctors and media organisations don’t ‘get it’ either!

Add in the symptoms caused by Neuroendocrine Tumours and their associated ‘Syndromes‘ and ‘Hormones‘, the external audience is now falling asleep or lost interest. Trying to explain why these diseases cannot be diagnosed earlier is also very complex.  “How can it be so difficult” many of them ask.

If you have managed to keep their interest and get onto the subject of living with the disease, it gets even more mind-blowing.  Non-stop surveillance, lifetime surveillance, permanent side effects of treatment. “No way” many of them remark.  The problem is that many people have a really simple outlook on cancer; something goes wrong, you get diagnosed, you get treated, you either die or live.  Simple isn’t it?

One group that normally ‘gets it’ is those who have currently got it, i.e. Neuroendocrine Cancer patients and their close families and supporters.    They may not ‘get it’ before someone is diagnosed and they may still not ‘get it’ once someone is diagnosed, but they eventually will ‘get it’. I have many people who ‘get it’ in my private group and on my main campaign sites.

Despite the difficulties, I’ll continue talking to those who have not yet ‘got it’ hoping to make them understand the disease.  I also intend to continue to help with the undiagnosed (some of these guys probably do ‘get it’ but just not yet formally ‘got it’).  I also want to help those at and beyond diagnosis who despite having it, don’t yet quite ‘get it’.

No one gets it until they get it. It shouldn’t be that way. 

Thanks for reading

Ronny

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Clinical Trial: Lenvatinib Efficacy in Metastatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (TALENT)



Lenvatinib has just completed a Phase 2 trial in Gastrointestinal (GI) and Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours.  The trial was sponsored by Grupo Espanol de Tumores Neuroendocrinos (Spanish NET scientific organisation) and the manufacturers.  A European venture with sites in Austria, Italy, Spain, UK.   Headline: The responses are better than Everolimus (Afinitor) and Sunitinib (Sutent).

What is Lenvatinib?

It is a type of targeted therapy known as a multikinase inhibitor. The brand name is ‘LENVIMA‘. These work by inhibiting multiple intracellular and cell surface kinases, some of which are implicated in tumour growth and metastatic progression of cancer, thus decreasing tumour growth and replication. A range of receptor kinases are involved in these processes, including vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR), platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), stem cell factor (c-KIT), Flt3, fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR), which can be hyperactivated during tumour formation and progression.  Tumour growth may be prevented by inhibiting the action of these hyperactivated receptor kinases, and as tumour progression usually involves the action of multiple kinases rather than just one, it is logical to target multiple kinases.

The Lenvantinib mechanism of action is similar to targeted therapy drugs already in use (or in trial) for Neuroendocrine Tumours:

  • Sunitinib (Sutent) – a targeted therapy receptor protein-tyrosine kinase inhibitor.  It inhibits the actions of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and is an angiogenesis inhibitor (i.e. the development of blood vessels to supply the tumour with nutrients, which they need to grow).  It is a mutlikinase in inhibitor.
  • Everolimus (Afinitor) – a targeted therapy kinase inhibitor that inhibits mammalian target of rapamycin (mTor) kinase, an enzyme required for cell growth and survival. By blocking this enzyme, the medication prevents cell division and, in turn, tumor growth. The medication can also interrupt angiogenesis.
  • Cabozantinib, an oral potent inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2, MET, and AXL, and currently on trial for Neuroendocrine Cancer.  Click here.

Multikinase inhibitors such as Lenvatinib, may be used to treat advanced kidney cancer as well as other specific types of cancer (in my research I also noted that in addition to kidney cancer, the drug is already approved for liver and thyroid cancers).  Worth also noting that the 3 examples of targeted therapy above are not just in use/in trial for Neuroendocrine Cancer, they are also in use/in trial for others including Renal (Kidney) Cancer, Breast Cancer.  Often more than one single kinase inhibitor can be given as a combo treatment, perhaps in sequence, to tackle multi kinases.

Anything special about Lenvatinib for Neuroendocrine Cancer? 

Recent reports from oncology conferences indicate that Lenvatinib showed significant antitumor activity and a favourable toxicity profile in progressive advanced NETs. This is the highest reported ORR with a targeted agent, confirmed by central radiology assessment in pancreatic NETs and Gastrointestinal (GI) NETs with promising progression free survival (PFS) in a pre-treated population; further evaluation is warranted.

Adverse events were mild to moderate in 90% of patients, the most frequent being fatigue, diarrhea and hypertension.

Lenvatinib showed the highest reported overall response rate (ORR) by central radiology assessment with a targeted agent in advanced NETs:

Average 29.2%

pNETs: 40.4% (95% CI 27.3-54.9),

GI NETs: 18.5% (95% CI 9.7-31.9.

Worth noting that Everolimus and Sunitinib were approved with ORRs much less than these figures.

What’s next? 

Given the responses in comparison to other approved targeted agents, a phase 3 trial should be anticipated.  Studies are “currently ongoing” and “further evaluation warranted”.  I will keep this article live to provide updates.

New Trial using Lenvatinib and Everolimus in Treating Patients With Advanced, Unresectable Neuroendocrine Tumors

Under ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03950609, there is a trial being setup at MD Anderson in Texas USA.  Use of a combo of Lenvatinib along with Everolimus (Afinitor) in treating patients with advanced, unresectable Neuroendocrine Tumors (the word ‘Carcinoid’ is used in the trial documentation).

Reference material used in the compilation of this article:

1. Annals of Oncology – Efficacy of Lenvatinib in patients with advanced pancreatic (panNETs) and gastrointestinal (giNETs) grade 1/2 (G1/G2) neuroendocrine tumors: Results of the international phase II TALENT trial (GETNE 1509) 23 Oct 2018 –  click here.

2. ESMO Congress 2018 – Efficacy of Lenvatinib in patients with advanced pancreatic (panNETs) and gastrointestinal (giNETs) grade 1/2 (G1/G2) neuroendocrine tumors – click here

3. Prime Oncology Slide Show – click here (useful)

4. Clinical Trials Document NCT02678780 – click here

5. Manufactures website – click here.

6.  Clinical Trials Document NCT03950609 for the trial of combo treatment Lenvatinib and Everolimus.  Click here.   As at 15 May 2019, the trial was not recruiting but see document for contact details, quite often these documents can be behind in updating. Trial start date recorded as 30 June 2019.

Thanks for reading

Ronny

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Neuroendocrine Cancer: a needle in a haystack, primary vs secondary


needle in a haystack

It’s no secret that Neuroendocrine Cancer can be difficult to diagnose. Although earlier diagnosis is improving (as reported in the SEER database report issued in 2017), there is still a lot of ground to cover. There are a number of reasons why these Neoplasms are often difficult to correctly and quickly  diagnose including but not limited to: – they grow silently, they often produce vague symptoms which can be mistaken for much more common illnesses, and their complexity is not fully understood.

I wanted to cover two different aspects of the problem of finding NETs. Firstly, in finding the primary tumour so that the type of NET can be properly established – this drives the best treatment regime. Secondly in finding all the tumours, as this establishes the correct and most detailed staging declaration – this drives treatment plans and surveillance regimes that need to be put into place.

Hunting Tumours – Primary vs Secondary

It’s really important to determine which tumours are primary and which are secondary (metastasis). There’s a number of ways to help work this out and knowledge of NETs epidemiology studies can help.

Specialist Knowledge – certain things are known about the behaviour of NETs

Specialists and in particular NET specialists will be aware of the vagaries of NETs in terms of what tumours are normally a primary and which are normally secondary and many of the pitfalls involved in working that out. Many NETs will have metastasized to the liver at diagnosis, so whilst it is not impossible to have a primary liver NET, the vast majority of liver tumours found will be secondary (metastases). NET Specialists are more likely to have the experience than generalists. They know that the varying metastatic potential depending on the primary site clearly indicates differing biology and genetics across sites and they know that NETs are indeed a heterogeneous group of tumours.

The differences cannot be explained by whether the NET is situated in the foregut, midgut, or hindgut. For example, Appendiceal NET is known to be less prone to metastasis. This may be due to the high rate of incidental findings during appendectomies, or because the appendix is an immunological organ where malignant cells can therefore be expected to be frequently recognized by the immune system.

The majority of the digestive tract is drained by the portal venous system, explaining the dominance of liver metastases in this group of tumours. This also explains the finding that many nervous system and bone metastases originate from NETs in the lungs. Disseminated tumour cells may directly reach the systemic circulation from the lungs, whereas if originating from the midgut region, they need to first pass both the liver and the lungs.

As an example of this heuristic knowledge, one Swedish study indicated that two-thirds of peritoneal metastases will be attributed to Small Intestine NETs (SI NETs). SI NETs and Pancreatic NETs (pNETs) are the most likely to metastasize. The least likely sites to metastasize are the Appendix and Rectum. The same study indicated that in addition to the common metastatic locations of lymph nodes and liver, Lung NETs are more likely to metastasize to the brain and bone than other types. I believe the findings from this study more or less correlates to other information I’ve had access to and also confirms the technical behaviour paragraph above.

Multiple Primary Tumours

With NETs there are two scenarios:

1. Multiple primaries in same organ/location (multicentric). This is fairly common in small intestine (SI NETs), stomach/gastric NETs (gNETs), and also found in Lung and pNETs too. NET experts will be aware of the issue and know to look for the possibility. This is an important point with SI NETs as the small intestine is a long and winding organ, although held together by the mesentery. So a ‘Mark 1 eyeball’ can normally be more efficient in finding NETs in this organ than scans.  There is a very well known surgical technique called “running the bowel” where they check the small intestine for signs of other primary tumours – they can do the same with the large intestine.  Additional surgeries due to this lack of knowledge could come with significant morbidity. Multiple ‘nodes’ and ‘lesions’ are common in the thyroid.

2. Multiple primaries in different locations. This is common with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN) syndromes (the name gives it away) and these may be metasynchronous. MEN1 for example can have tumours in what is called the ‘3 P’ locations, pituitary, pancreas and parathyroid. Of course MEN guys may also have multiple primaries in the same organ (multicentric).  Read more about MEN by clicking here.

There’s probably a third scenario (for all cancers) and that is multiple primaries with different cancers (i.e a second, third and fourth cancer etc). Synchronous would be really unlucky but metasynchonous is more likely and there are many NET patients with a second cancer.

What else helps find a NET? 

There are many other clues open to those involved in diagnosing a NET:

Patient. Very often the patient plays a big part of determining where the primary and other tumours might be by carefully describing symptoms.

Incidental Finds. NETs are very often found incidentally during trips to the ER/A&E and also during tests for something else. This is particularly the case with Appendiceal NETs and might explain why the average age of a patient is significantly lower in this type of NET.

Blood tests and Hormone Markers. We are not yet in a position where these types of tests can diagnose (but we are moving in that direction). In the case of unknown primaries (CUP), sometimes test results can help to find where some of these cancers started. With NETs, symptomatic patients can often test to confirm an elevated hormone marker which may narrow it down to a specific organ or gland. Read more here.

Scans and Endoscopies. Most cancers of a certain size may show up on conventional scanning such as CT, MRI and Ultrasound. Nuclear scans are now playing a bigger part in finding tumours which betray their location through functional behaviour by lighting up or glowing on these imaging devices. Endoscopies (e.g. gastroscopies, colonoscopies, even gastro intestinal pill cameras can be used) can help but like scans are not foolproof). Generally with NETs, if you can see it, you can detect it. Read more here.

Hereditary Conditions. Around 5-10% of NETs are hereditary in nature, mostly involving the MEN group of syndromes. Many of those people will know they are at risk of developing NETs and their doctors should know the most common locations for primary tumours associated with each gene. So a declared or suspected hereditary syndrome is useful in finding primary tumours if they exist and are proving difficult to find.

Biopsies. “Tissue is the issue”. Pathology can very often give really strong clues as to the type of NET and therefore the likely location of a primary tumour, for example additional tests such as immunostains. Many biopsies will come from secondary cancer (metastases), mostly the liver.  Despite all the potential diagnostic routes above, the place the cancer started is sometimes still not found and this may lead to atypical diagnostic/treatment plans and in certain cases this might even include exploratory biopsies via surgery (invasive/minimally invasive), perhaps combined with opportunistic tumour removal if found during the procedure.

Staging. Simple staging can be given if locations of metastases are known. For example in the case of Liver metastases, the stage is automatically Stage 4. However, the full staging definition relies on knowing distant metastases, loco-regional metastases and the full Tumour/Node/Metastases (TNM) definition (size, spread, etc) cannot be fully complete without a primary. Read more here.

Cancers of Unknown Primary

Cancer is always named for the place where it started, called the primary site. Sometimes doctors can’t tell where a cancer may have started. When cancer is found in one or more places where it seems to have spread, but the site where it started is not known, it is called a cancer of unknown primary (CUP) or an occult primary cancer.

When you look at the ratio of all cancers, the figure for cancers of unknown primary (CUP) is quite startling. Depending on where you look the figure is around 2-10%. That doesn’t seem a lot but when you consider the amount of people diagnosed with cancer, the total figure must be staggering. Interestingly, Cancer Research UK say that 60% of CUP cases are in the over 75s. In another interesting Swedish study, doctors claimed that the rates of metastatic cases were higher with certain NETs than they were in their anatomical counterparts, reinforcing the dangerous and sneaky nature of NETs.

Despite quite advanced scanning and diagnostic testing currently in place, and the extensive knowledge of NET specialists, there can still be reasons for not being able to find the primary tumour:

  • The primary is just too small to be seen and is growing quite slow. Very small cancers might not cause symptoms or be seen on scans. This is a particularly relevant point with NETs.
  • The primary could be hidden in tissue in between different organs causing confusion about the actual primary location.
  • The body’s immune system killed the primary cancer. It’s also possible (but not common) that any secondary cancer (i.e. metastases) is still growing.
  • The tumour has become loose from its primary location and exited the body, e.g. from a wall of the bowel and excreted out in the stool.
  • The primary cancer was removed during surgery for another condition and doctors didn’t know cancer had formed. For example, a uterus with cancer may be removed during a hysterectomy to treat a serious infection.

Summary

I hope this is useful for many NET patients, particularly those who are looking for a diagnosis or looking for a primary tumour.

Neuroendocrine Cancer – at times, it can really be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Read my Cure Magazine contributions

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

patients included

Please Share this post

 

RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter Covering November 2018

Newsletter Nov 18
Summary for November 2018

NET News

1. I supported the annual NET Cancer Day event in my own style, contributing SIGNIFICANTLY to both Facebook and Twitter social media platforms.  My twitter accounts were the biggest contributors to the #LETsTalkAboutNETs and #NeuroendocrineCancer hashtags for several days straddling the 10th Nov and between this and my Facebook account, I accounted for a significant proportion of the data recently published by INCA.   I almost got to my 1 million ‘reach’ on twitter in ONE WEEK straddling NET Cancer Day (see below) – just a wee Scottish guy with a less common disease and a computer. Curiously not mentioned by INCA in their recent newsletter.  So I thought I’d mention it instead.

Mind you, every day is NET Cancer Day on my social media platforms. I push on.

Every day is NET Cancer Day

 

45805256_1992143267537828_1584897212020686848_n
Join my twitter army for a new paradigm in NETs awareness

2.  Thanks for supporting my photo on Facebook and Twitter – it has become the most liked post on my Facebook ever with over 1000 likes.  You can link directly to it by clicking here:

45610294_1983128528439302_5378612202188046336_n

3. Personal NET News

My NET. I still await the output from a meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon to address the new issues identified my routine surveillance scan and a subsequent Ga68 PET/CT. Fortunately the issues are not classed as urgent at this stage. They have dismissed PRRT as an option at this stage (kept in reserve) and it looks like surgery might be on the cards.  You can read about my Ga68 PET/CT experience here and my fibrosis issues here.  I recently has a Renal MAG3 nuclear scan to determine the efficacy of my kidney function – waiting on results but expecting good news.

fibrosis an unsolved mystery

Looking for Advice?

If you are reading this and you are currently undiagnosed but strongly suspect NETs – this article might help.

If you are diagnosed and looking for a NET Specialist and the sort of questions to ask – this article will help.

Blog Site Activity in November

Due to the vagaries of Facebook inner workings, some of these articles created or updated in the last month may not have even shown on your timeline. So, ICYMI …….here’s a summary with links, includes updated blogs. You can actually sign up to receive my blog articles direct to your inbox when published – subscribe here.

Neuroendocrine Cancer is normally slow growing Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes: it may be slow growing BUT …..  My new campaign to highlight issues surrounding living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
pancreatic vs neuroendocrine Awareness article to illustrate the differences between Pancreatic Cancer and Neuroendocrine Cancer with a pancreatic primary.
fibrosis an unsolved mystery Updated version of NET Fibrosis.
slow growing cancer Updated version of NET – normally slow but always sneaky
witches brew Updated version of NET Syndromes – a witch’s brew
Your-favourite-articles-1.jpg Your favourite posts.  Revised list of anything above 5000 hits. I now have three articles with over 20,000 views.
Newsletter Oct 18
October 2018 Newsletter in case you missed it.
caricture For most of November, my name branded facebook page was the fastest rising public Facebook page on the planet about NETs. I use this page to like and comment on other healthcare pages (it draws in interest in NETs). Some of you will also recognise it as the main ID inside my closed group. It’s also a backup to this page (NETCancerBlog) as you will not always see stuff on my main page due to Facebook gremlins.

(Don’t unlike, I need your strength in numbers to generate awareness).

There were many distractions in November 2018, I’m actually quite busy with external projects but still managed over 35,000 views, the second biggest monthly figure. Here are the top 10 most read articles which contributed to last month’s figures:

Home page / Archives More stats 2,936
Neuroendocrine Cancer – normally slow but always sneaky? More stats 2,321
Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes: A Witch’s Brew More stats 1,473
Dear every cancer patient I ever took care of, I’m sorry. I didn’t get it. More stats 1,390
Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – Home Page More stats 1,345
Neuroendocrine Cancer – Hormones More stats 1,333
Neuroendocrine Cancer – is normally slow growing BUT ….. More stats 1,305
Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels More stats 1,026
Neuroendocrine Cancer is not a ‘type’ of another Cancer ….. PERIOD! More stats 959
Pancreatic Cancer vs Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Pancreas More stats 944
The Human Anatomy of Neuroendocrine Cancer More stats 875

Other Activity

I’m constantly looking for opportunities to spread awareness and advance the cause of Neuroendocrine Cancer patients. Thank you all so much for the support in helping me do this.

  • Please join my 2018 (but perpetual) awareness campaign event here (select ‘Going’)

  • I continue to receive a steady flow of private contacts, mainly from patients seeking information. I don’t have an issue with private contact but please note my disclaimer


  • Please also note that due to sheer numbers of requests, I cannot accept telephone or video calls on a one to one basis. Please just message me and I will respond – see “Send Message” button when you CLICK HERE. (also please ‘Like’ this page if you have not already done so). On a personal note, please do not send me friend requests on my personal Facebook page, I get so many and want to keep this little area of ‘sanity’ free of NET stuff. I have so many other sites you can contact me on – all inside the newsletter. The number of non-patients contacting me for other reasons (mainly to help with something) continues to grow and this is producing some great publicity and awareness.

Ronny Allan’s Private Facebook Group

As the number of people contacting me has increased so much, it’s becoming very difficult to answer all questions myself. I’ve therefore set up a chat room here (I’m not the only one who can answer questions!). This is not like many forums, it’s a place to make people feel safe and to discuss without many of the other distractions that can be found on forums and is moderated accordingly. I welcome all types of NET, people from any country and I also welcome carers/caregivers and medical people. It’s also a place where I will bring in expertise to chat about various issues. The first online chat was held on 28 Feb about the problems NET patients can have with being unable to produce sufficient digestive enzymes and the treatment to correct this issue PERT (Creon etc).

The second chat will be about “Weight” and you can join the event by selecting ‘Going’ to this event (you will be kept up to date inside this event).
Join the chat group by clicking here (please answer the simple questions so you can be processed quicker). As at 30th November, there were almost 2200 people in the group. It’s the fastest growing group in the world for NETs.

And I’m working on a guest Gastroenterologist for a third chat.  To be confirmed.

New Audiences for NET Cancer

I said it was my aim to find new audiences for NETs rather than just share stuff within our own community. Sharing memes and animal pictures between patients is not my scene – I want to extend awareness much wider than that and with much wider and compelling messages, particularly to the outside world.  Doing that is a way to ensure we move away from being a niche condition that no-one has heard of. I’m doing this all the time, although it may not always be apparent.

Engagements and Invites

  • I just received an invite to help build an educational tool for NETs. More to follow when I am at liberty to tell you.
  • I’m working on a video shoot next week for a Pharma company who are looking at how cancer patients live from day to day.  More info later when I am at liberty to tell you.
  • I’m working on an association with a Pharma company to help with patient portals.  Early days.
  • I’m working on an association with a healthcare company to help with their marketing.
  • I’ve accepted an appointment to the Strategic Advisory Board on MultiMed Inc the owner of Cancer Knowledge Network based in Canada who have featured my articles in the past (https://cancerkn.com/) – They also publishes a magazine called Current Oncology which is Medline listed. This is not a NET site but my inclusion will no doubt raise the profile for us. Read more here.
  • Cure Magazine. I’ve been accepted as a ‘Cure Today’ contributor which means my articles will get a wider distribution than they do now. Cure Magazine has a readership of 1 million. Click here to read more. In October, I was featured in Cure Magazine twice.
“Cancer isn’t all about me”
“Poker Face or Cancer Card”
  • Twitter. I’m ‘extremely’ active on twitter and I find a lot of research stuff there, in addition to new audiences. I also use it to support other conditions and it’s mostly returned (i.e. others help with NET awareness and are made aware of NETs in the process). There are people regularly retweeting my stuff who do not have a personal interest in NETs and I am now regularly copied in on many tweets by those wishing to use my account as a vehicle for dissemination. In the last month, I tweeted 244 times on my personal account which led to over 117,000 views of my tweets. I was mentioned 203 times by other tweeters, 2331 people looked at my profile (where it mentions NETs) and I gained 64 new followers. My weekly ‘reach’ is consistently between 400,000 and 800,000, heading for 1 million soon. My tweet “Ignore this post” remains the most tweeted article about NETs ever posted on twitter. Check it out – click here.
  • proud to be

WANT TO JOIN MY TWITTER ARMY?  Just ask. 

  • Daily Newsletter from my twitter feed (Nuzzel). There is so much on twitter that I could swamp the community Facebook site so I started a twitter newsletter via an app called Nuzzel which seeks out stuff I normally like. This has been a huge success from my point of view resulting in an increase in blog hits and to a wider population than just NETs. Click this link and sign up if you think this is something you’d be interested in receiving – you don’t need to have a twitter account to read, just sign up with an email to join over 630 other subscribers.
  • WEGO. I continue to be featured by ‘external’ organisations such as WEGO and my PODCAST is reaching new audiences – click here. In March, I managed to get into a very well contested short list for an article about the use of Facebook for health communities in light of the recent bad press for the service. The recent awards will continue to showcase my work which has the effect of spreading Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness to NEW audiences in addition to enriching my experience as a Patient Leader. WEGO is a fantastic organisation! They recently listed me as one of the top 5 bloggers to watch in 2018. This is great awareness and good feedback for my own efforts. Read more here. I have made the finals in the last 3 years and I was their winner in the 2016 Best in Show: Community and 2018 Best in Show: Blog announced on 26 Sep 2018. Check out my WEGO Health profile here.
wego blog 2018 winner
Click the picture to watch the video of the live announcements

Social Media and Stats

Blog Milestone. At the end of last month, I accelerated past 777,000 blog views! Thank you all so much Keep sharing! On track for one million in the latter half of 2019.

Facebook Milestone. Almost 7200 ‘Likes’ by the end of the end of last month but my projected numbers are down so far in 2018 (despite a 20% increase in blog hits). The Facebook page is now my biggest outlet for awareness and education so please recommend this page to anyone you think would be interested. There are buttons to share the page and invite others to ‘Like’ it.

Also check out my sister Facebook sites here (go to these pages and click on ‘Like’)

These are fallback sites to counter the Facebook algorithm whereby you may not see all my posts on the main site (click on the links to see the pages)

Ronny Allan’s Community

Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness and Networking

Instagram

I’m expanding into Instagram to see how that goes. I’ve amassed over 300 followers to date. Initially, I’ll just be posting pictures of things that inspire me, mostly scenic photos of places I’ve been or want to go! I really enjoy these pictures, I hope you do too. You can follow me here: Click here to go to my Instagram page

Community Statistics (the measurement of my efforts on your behalf)

Figures

Summary

An amazing amount of awareness and hopefully, support for others. However, I cannot do this without you guys liking, commenting and sharing! The likes give me motivation, the comments and private messages give me inspiration or at least a chance to explain further – and they also keep me humble. The sharing gives me a bigger platform. A bigger platform generates more awareness.

Thanks for your great support in last month. Onward and upwards!

Thanks for reading

Please Share this post

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life


Neuroendocrine Cancer – is normally slow growing BUT …..



I have a lot of be thankful for – I’m still here for starters!


BUT

……… here’s a list of 10 things I’m NOT thankful to Neuroendocrine Cancer for!

Thanks for growing inside me for years before making your vague announcement

Sorry too late, I’m metastatic and around 50% of patients will be at diagnosis (so I’m not alone!). It’s very SNEAKY!

No thanks for making a right mess inside my body!

I mean, I look really good, I look really well, but you should see my INSIDES

No thanks for generating fibrosis throughout my mesentery and retroperitoneum!

I really didn’t know what to make of this issue at diagnosis, although I did know the aorta was pretty important!  Fortunately I had a surgeon who had operated on many NET patients and has seen this issue before.  After my first surgery, he described it as a “dense fibrotic retroperitoneal reaction encircling his aorta and cava (inferior vena cava (IVC))”. My surgeon was known for difficult and extreme surgery, so as part of the removal of my primary, he also spent 3 hours dissecting out the retroperitoneal fibrosis surrounding these important blood vessels and managed 270 degree clearance. The remnant still shows on CT scans. Some of the removed tissue was tested and found to be benign, showing only florid inflammation and fibrosis (thankfully).  That said, the abstract papers above has led me to believe that my retroperitoneal fibrosis is clinically significant.  In fact I have spent the last 3 months worrying about some of it growing into reach of important vessels and only just been given the all clear (for now). 

fibrosis an unsolved mystery

No thanks for screwing up some of my hormones

There are many hormones involved with Neuroendocrine Cancer which is unique in that different types can result in elevated levels of different hormones, often more than one is involved.  Serotonin has caused fibrosis in my retroperitoneal area and is currently threatening important vessels. I don’t really need that right now!


No thanks for the ongoing symptoms and side effects

I was showing symptoms of a Neuroendocrine Cancer syndrome known as Carcinoid Syndrome (currently) such as flushing and diarrhea and fatigue was probably there too, but these were thought to be something else or ignored (by me).  I don’t suffer too much nowadays other than side effects of the disease or the treatment I’ve had or receiving.  However, I know from speaking to many patients the effects of the various syndromes associated with Neuroendocrine Cancer can be pretty debilitating and oppressive to quality of life.

These syndromes can be so strange and so weird, they can be very difficult for patients, nurses and doctors to treat. They can be a real ‘witch’s brew’.

Surveillance and treatment for life SUCKS!

But I need constant surveillance, it’ll keep me alive.

No thanks for the weight loss

As if I needed it

No thanks for the hypothyroidism

Another pill for life. I have a left-sided thyroid lesion and my treatment also messes with my hormone levels.

No thanks for increasing my diabetes risk

No thanks for pushing me into pre-diabetes. My blood sugar is spiking, most likely due to treatment.

No thanks for making me retire early

I loved my job but not if it was going to kill me. I made my own decision  based on how I could survive in a financial sense. Made easier as I was only 8 years from retirement but I guess I’m one of the lucky ones despite the fact I took a big hit on the income going into my bank account.

The truth is that many people still need to work whilst struggling with side effects of the cancer and its treatment. Getting some form of financial assistance from the government is not a done deal.

Neuroendocrine Cancer is a very expensive disease to treat.

This is fast becoming a big issue regardless of country and regardless of healthcare system in place. However, in privately funded healthcare, it can be exacerbated by the level of insurance cover. Read more about financial toxicity for cancer patients which is a growing problem worldwide.

……….. and no thanks to anyone who says it’s a “good cancer


Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. Help me build up my new site here – click here and ‘Like’

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Check out my Podcast Interview (click and press play)

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!


wego-blog-2018-winner


patients included

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST

RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter Covering October 2018


Summary for October 2018

NET News

Several headlines covering the past month:

1. The annual NANETS symposium took place last month and I constructed an article of several important outputs.  One day I might make it there, been to ENETS twice.  Would love to attend UKINETS but they don’t seem very ‘patient’ friendly.

2. I spoke alongside IPSEN Pharma SAS (Global HQ) at the annual Eye for Pharma Patient Summit. It was an honour and a privilege to stand in front of 200 people to tell my personal story plus my involvement in LivingWithNETs.com.  The audience was a mix of the Pharmaceutical industry, Healthcare industry and Patient Advocates from many different illnesses.  A fantastic and real awareness opportunity which is part of my promise to take NET awareness to new audiences rather than just share stuff between NET patients and advocates.

the best kind of story – a 2 legged one

3. I’m still reeling from winning the 2018 WEGO Blog Award and if you missed the live announcement, you can listen to the quite short video clip here.

Personal NET News

My NET. I still await the output from a meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon to address the new issues identified my routine surveillance scan and a subsequent Ga68 PET/CT. Fortunately the issues are not classed as urgent at this stage. They have dismissed PRRT as an option at this stage (kept in reserve) and it looks like surgery might be on the cards.  You can read about my Ga68 PET/CT experience here and my fibrosis issues here.

Looking for Advice?

If you are reading this and you are currently undiagnosed but strongly suspect NETs – this article might help.

If you are diagnosed and looking for a NET Specialist and the sort of questions to ask – this article will help.

Blog Site Activity in September

Due to the vagaries of Facebook inner workings, some of these articles created or updated in the last month may not have even shown on your timeline. So, ICYMI …….here’s a summary with links, includes updated blogs. You can actually sign up to receive my blog articles direct to your inbox when published – subscribe here.

Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes: A Witch’s Brew.  My 2018 themed Halloween post with a serious awareness message.
How to talk to a cancer patient without being a complete twit – a serious but partly light hearted slant on communications with a cancer patient, includes doctor-patient communications.  Bonus article about signs you need a new doctor.
Living with Cancer – Worrier or Warrior ? worry and anxiety is common with cancer patients but can you worry too much to the point it is counter productive?  Even warriors can worry.
Short Update from NANETS 2018
On your Bike – personal story about trying to live better with cancer and its consequences
Your-favourite-articles-1.jpg Your favourite posts.  Revised list of anything above 5000 hits. I now have three articles with over 20,000 views.
September 2018 Newsletter in case you missed it.

There were many distractions in October 2018, I was very busy with Ipsen speaker stuff plus a holiday in Scotland but still managed over 32,000 views, the third biggest monthly figure. Here are the top 10 most read articles which contributed to last month’s figures:

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Trick or Treat? More stats 1,535
Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – Home Page More stats 1,116
Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes: A Witch’s Brew More stats 1,065
Steve Jobs – the most famous Neuroendocrine Cancer Ambassador we NEVER had More stats 866
Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes – Early Signs of a Late Diagnosis More stats 864
Neuroendocrine Cancer – Ronny Allan: Background to my Diagnosis and Treatment More stats 817
‘Chinese Dumplings’ and Neuroendocrine Cancer More stats 809
Neuroendocrine Cancer – Short Update from NANETS 2018 More stats 758
Ever wonder what caused your NET? More stats 722
Gallium 68 PET Scans – Into the Unknown More stats 708

Other Activity

I’m constantly looking for opportunities to spread awareness and advance the cause of Neuroendocrine Cancer patients. Thank you all so much for the support in helping me do this.

  • Please join my 2018 (but perpetual) awareness campaign event here (select ‘Going’)

  • I continue to receive a steady flow of private contacts, mainly from patients seeking information. I don’t have an issue with private contact but please note my disclaimer


  • Please also note that due to sheer numbers of requests, I cannot accept telephone or video calls on a one to one basis. Please just message me and I will respond – see “Send Message” button when you CLICK HERE. (also please ‘Like’ this page if you have not already done so). On a personal note, please do not send me friend requests on my personal Facebook page, I get so many and want to keep this little area of ‘sanity’ free of NET stuff. I have so many other sites you can contact me on – all inside the newsletter. The number of non-patients contacting me for other reasons (mainly to help with something) continues to grow and this is producing some great publicity and awareness.

Ronny Allan’s Private Facebook Group

As the number of people contacting me has increased so much, it’s becoming very difficult to answer all questions myself. I’ve therefore set up a chat room here (I’m not the only one who can answer questions!). This is not like many forums, it’s a place to make people feel safe and to discuss without many of the other distractions that can be found on forums and is moderated accordingly. I welcome all types of NET, people from any country and I also welcome carers/caregivers and medical people. It’s also a place where I will bring in expertise to chat about various issues. The first online chat was held on 28 Feb about the problems NET patients can have with being unable to produce sufficient digestive enzymes and the treatment to correct this issue PERT (Creon etc). The second chat will be about “Weight” and you can join the event by selecting ‘Going’ to this event (you will be kept up to date inside this event).
Join the chat group by clicking here (please answer the simple questions so you can be processed quicker). As at 31st October 2018, there were almost 2000 people in the group. 

New Audiences for NET Cancer

I said it was my aim to find new audiences for NETs rather than just share stuff within our own community. Sharing memes and animal pictures between patients is not my scene – I want to extend awareness much wider than that and with much wider and compelling messages, particularly to the outside world.  Doing that is a way to ensure we move away from being a niche condition that no-one has heard of. I’m doing this all the time, although it may not always be apparent.

Engagements and Invites

  • I spoke at the Eye for Pharma event in London alongside an important Pharma NET contact. See above.
  • I just received an invite to help build an educational tool for NETs. More to follow when I am at liberty to tell you.
  • I’ve accepted an appointment to the Strategic Advisory Board on MultiMed Inc the owner of Cancer Knowledge Network based in Canada who have featured my articles in the past (https://cancerkn.com/) – They also publishes a magazine called Current Oncology which is Medline listed. This is not a NET site but my inclusion will no doubt raise the profile for us. Read more here.
  • Cure Magazine. I’ve been accepted as a ‘Cure Today’ contributor which means my articles will get a wider distribution than they do now. Cure Magazine has a readership of 1 million. Click here to read more. In October, I was featured in Cure Magazine twice.
“Cancer isn’t all about me”
“Poker Face or Cancer Card”
  • Twitter. I’m ‘extremely’ active on twitter and I find a lot of research stuff there, in addition to new audiences. I also use it to support other conditions and it’s mostly returned (i.e. others help with NET awareness and are made aware of NETs in the process). There are people regularly retweeting my stuff who do not have a personal interest in NETs and I am now regularly copied in on many tweets by those wishing to use my account as a vehicle for dissemination. In the last month, I tweeted 190 times on my personal account which led to over 117,000 views of my tweets. I was mentioned 134 times by other tweeters, 1524 people looked at my profile (where it mentions NETs) and I gained 50 new followers. My tweet “Ignore this post” remains the most tweeted article about NETs ever posted on twitter. Check it out – click here.

WANT TO JOIN MY TWITTER ARMY?  Just ask. 

  • Daily Newsletter from my twitter feed (Nuzzel). There is so much on twitter that I could swamp the community Facebook site so I started a twitter newsletter via an app called Nuzzel which seeks out stuff I normally like. This has been a huge success from my point of view resulting in an increase in blog hits and to a wider population than just NETs. Click this link and sign up if you think this is something you’d be interested in receiving – you don’t need to have a twitter account to read, just sign up with an email to join over 630 other subscribers.
  • WEGO. I continue to be featured by ‘external’ organisations such as WEGO and my PODCAST is reaching new audiences – click here. In March, I managed to get into a very well contested short list for an article about the use of Facebook for health communities in light of the recent bad press for the service. The recent awards will continue to showcase my work which has the effect of spreading Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness to NEW audiences in addition to enriching my experience as a Patient Leader. WEGO is a fantastic organisation! They recently listed me as one of the top 5 bloggers to watch in 2018. This is great awareness and good feedback for my own efforts. Read more here. I have made the finals in the last 3 years and I was their winner in the 2016 Best in Show: Community and 2018 Best in Show: Blog announced on 26 Sep 2018. Check out my WEGO Health profile here.
wego blog 2018 winner
Click the picture to watch the video of the live announcements

Social Media and Stats

Blog Milestone. At the end of last month, I accelerated past 741,000 blog views! Thank you all so much Keep sharing! On track for one million in the latter half of 2019.

Facebook Milestone. Almost 7000 ‘Likes’ by the end of the end of last month but my projected numbers are down so far in 2018 (despite a 20% increase in blog hits). The Facebook page is now my biggest outlet for awareness and education so please recommend this page to anyone you think would be interested. There are buttons to share the page and invite others to ‘Like’ it.

Also check out my sister Facebook sites here (go to these pages and click on ‘Like’)

These are fallback sites to counter the Facebook algorithm whereby you may not see all my posts on the main site (click on the links to see the pages)

Ronny Allan’s Community

Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness and Networking

Instagram

I’m expanding into Instagram to see how that goes. I’ve amassed over 300 followers to date. Initially, I’ll just be posting pictures of things that inspire me, mostly scenic photos of places I’ve been or want to go! I really enjoy these pictures, I hope you do too. You can follow me here: Click here to go to my Instagram page

Community Statistics (the measurement of my efforts on your behalf)

Figures

Summary

An amazing amount of awareness and hopefully, support for others. However, I cannot do this without you guys liking, commenting and sharing! The likes give me motivation, the comments and private messages give me inspiration or at least a chance to explain further – and they also keep me humble. The sharing gives me a bigger platform. A bigger platform generates more awareness.

Thanks for your great support in last month. Onward and upwards!

Thanks for reading

Please Share this post

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life


Neuroendocrine Cancer: A Witch’s Brew of Signs and Symptoms


cancer growth

One of the key awareness messages for Neuroendocrine Cancer is the hormonal syndromes that can often accompany the diagnosis for many people.  As it’s a difficult disease to diagnose, many people struggle with these syndromes for some time before formal diagnosis of Neuroendocrine Cancer.  Some continue to struggle after.

The cancer can often be uncannily quiet, but the tumours can be ‘functional’ and over-secrete certain hormones to add or introduce symptoms which mimic many other diseases or conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Menopause, Heart disease and Asthma.   In addition to common symptoms of flushing and diarrhea, others include generally feeling weak, fatigued, pain, agitated, anxious, dizzy, nauseous, acid reflux, skin irritation, anaemic, lose weight, gain weight, low blood sugar, high blood sugar, heart palpitations, headaches, sweating, high blood pressure. Its main trick is to prevent you from being correctly diagnosed and it’s pretty good at it.  For those looking for a diagnosis, it can be very frightening.

One or more of the NET syndromes can be a weird concoction of strange, powerful or terrifying ingredients, designed to make you very ill; and doctors will be confused. 

Certain types of Neuroendocrine Cancer were once referred to by the out of date term of ‘Carcinoid‘ – now correctly referred to as a NET prefixed by its anatomical primary location. However, for the time being, the term Carcinoid Syndrome, associated with these types of NET persists; and is known to be capable of over secreting (amongst others) the vasoactive substance called serotonin. It is commonly thought that serotonin is the cause of the flushing, but this is only partially correct, the flushing also results from secretion of kallikrein, the enzyme that catalyzes a conversion to bradykinin, one of the most powerful vasodilators known.

Other components of the carcinoid syndrome are diarrhea, probably caused by the increased serotonin, which greatly increases peristalsis, leaving less time for fluid absorption.  In the extreme it can cause a pellagra-like syndrome, probably due to the  diversion of large amounts of tryptophan from synthesis of the vitamin B3 (Niacin), which is needed for NAD production (oxidized form of B3).

It also causes fibrotic lesions of the endocardium, particularly on the right side of the heart resulting in insufficiency of the tricuspid valve and, less frequently, the pulmonary valve and, uncommonly, bronchoconstriction. Other fibrosis spells include mesenteric and retroperitoneal desmoplasia which have the potential to dangerously obstruct important vessels and cause general discomfort at best.

 

serotonin
Serotonin

 

Carcinoid Syndrome is one of the most powerful and dangerous ‘witch’s brews’. 

The classic carcinoid syndrome includes flushing (80%), diarrhea (70%), abdominal pain (40%), valvular heart disease (40% to 45% but reduced to 20% since the introduction of somatostatin analogues), telangiectasia (25%), wheezing (15%), and pellagra-like skin lesions (5%).

Carcinoid syndrome, first described in 1954 by Thorson and co-workers, has the following features: malignant neuroendocrine tumour of the small intestine, normally with metastases to the liver, sometimes with valvular disease of the right side of the heart (pulmonary stenosis and tricuspid insufficiency without septal defects), peripheral vasomotor symptoms, bronchial constriction, and an unusual type of cyanosis. One year later, Dr. William Bean gave the following colorful description of carcinoid syndrome:

“This witch’s brew of unlikely signs and symptoms, intriguing to the most fastidious connoisseur of clinical esoterica—the skin underwent rapid and extreme changes resembling in clinical miniature the fecal phantasmagoria of the aurora borealis.” 

Other witch’s brews include the group of NET syndromes associated with over-secretions of Insulin, Glucagon, Gastrin, Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP), Pancreatic Polypeptide (PP) and Somatostatin.  Read more about these and other syndromes here.

NET Syndromes

One of the most scary witch’s brews is the group of symptoms associated with one of the most uncommon types of NET, the catecholamine and metanephrine (adrenaline and noradrenaline) secreting tumours known as Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma. These tumours are likely to cause a barrage of symptoms such as High blood pressure, Heavy sweating, Headache, Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), Tremors, Paleness in the face (pallor) and Shortness of breath (dyspnea).

spotlight on pheo para

All of the above is a diagnostic nightmare for those who have the symptoms and remain undiagnosed – no fun for the doctors either – this why we need so much more awareness and education – it’s one of the key aims of all my social media sites.  Another aim of my sites is to support those who are diagnosed as these symptoms can continue following diagnosis and treatment. Many NET patients need constant surveillance and follow-up, many for life.

This is a very spooky disease, it will slowly grow without you knowing, it will mess with your body and mind, and if left alone to plot its devious and destructive course, it will kill.  Some are faster growing but they have the same traits – they just kill faster.  Share this post and potentially save a life.

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Read my Cure Magazine contributions

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

Ronny Allan is an award winning patient leader and advocate for Neuroendocrine Cancer.

 

 

 

RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter Covering September 2018

Newsletter Sep 18

Summary for September 2018

NET News

Several headlines covering the past month:

1. The annual NANETS symposium kicks off in a few days. I’m hoping to bring you news from the event (remotely, I won’t be there) and perhaps a summary in next month’s newsletter.

2. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a proposal on their desk to harmonise the grading structure for all types of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NEN). I’ve actually been ahead of the game for over a year since I found out this was coming and it’s reflected in my 18 month old post on Staging and Grading. Be careful where you look as many are still behind the curve on this issue. Their proposals are interesting as they are recommending the final removal of the last vestiges of the word ‘Carcinoid‘, something I’ve been pushing for in the community for some time. I’ll be constructing a new article confirming some of the detail in due course. Watch this space.

3. This very old news from 2007 has resurfaced – an autopsy on former US President Eisenhower confirmed he had a Pheochromocytoma after suffering from heart issues for some time prior to his death. Nonetheless, good publicity for Neuroendocrine Cancer. Read my Pheochromocytoma article here.

Personal NET News

My NET. I still await the output from a meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon to address the new issues identified my routine surveillance scan and a subsequent Ga68 PET/CT. Fortunately the issues are not classed as urgent at this stage. I think they are still consulting with London on the feasibility of trying PRRT first. You can read about my Ga68 PET/CT experience here and my fibrosis issues here.

Looking for Advice?

If you are reading this and you are currently undiagnosed but strongly suspect NETs – this article might help.

If you are diagnosed and looking for a NET Specialist – this article will help and it also includes 10 questions to ask.

Blog Site Activity in September

Due to the vagaries of Facebook inner workings, some of these articles created or updated in the last month may not have even shown on your timeline. So, ICYMI …….here’s a summary with links, includes updated blogs. You can actually sign up to receive my blog articles direct to your inbox when published – subscribe here.

don't worry it's benign widescreen Don’t worry, it’s benign! An article about the dangers in assuming that all NETs are benign. All NETs have malignant potential.
Diabetes The NET Effect Diabetes – the NET Effect. Latest article in the “NET Effect” series.
Diagnosing the undiagnosed Diagnosing the Undiagnosed. An article designed to give those looking for a diagnosis, some questions to ask with references. Plus other advice
A Neuroendocrine Tumour is NOT Neuroendocrine Cancer is not a type of another Cancer….. PERIOD! A follow on from the Aretha Franklin article to emphasise that Neuroendocrine Cancer is a cancer in its own right.
Newsletter Aug 18 RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter August – in case you missed it.
Your-favourite-articles-1.jpg Your favourite posts. The numbers are so big so the list is now too long – revised list now for anything above 5000 hits. I now have two articles with over 20,000 views.
lets raise our sites Let’s raise our “sites” – twist on the word sights to indicate we need to keep on letting people know that a NET in a particular part of the anatomy should not be called that anatomical cancer. The change in graphic seems to have made this more popular.

There have been many distractions in September 2018, I was very busy with WEGO Health stuff but still managed 25,000 views. Here are the top 10 most read articles which contributed to last month’s figures:

Neuroendocrine Cancer is not a ‘type’ of another Cancer ….. PERIOD! More stats 1,279
Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – Home Page More stats 1,212
Diagnosing the Undiagnosed More stats 942
Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels More stats 913
Neuroendocrine Cancer – normally slow but always sneaky More stats 785
Diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer? – 10 questions to ask your doctor (and where to find a NET Specialist) More stats 760
Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Article 2 – Gastrointestinal Malabsorption More stats 635
Neuroendocrine Cancer – let’s raise our ‘sites’ More stats 618
Neuroendocrine Cancer – Ronny Allan: Background to my Diagnosis and Treatment More stats 610
Diabetes – The NET Effect More stats 593

Other Activity

I’m constantly looking for opportunities to spread awareness and advance the cause of Neuroendocrine Cancer patients. Thank you all so much for the support in helping me do this.

  • Please join my 2018 awareness campaign event here (select ‘Going’)

  • I continue to receive a steady flow of private contacts, mainly from patients seeking information. I don’t have an issue with private contact but please note my disclaimer
  • Please also note that due to sheer numbers of requests, I cannot accept telephone or video calls on a one to one basis. Please just message me and I will respond – see “Send Message” button when you CLICK HERE. (also please ‘Like’ this page if you have not already done so). On a personal note, please do not send me friend requests on my personal Facebook page, I get so many and want to keep this little area of ‘sanity’ free of NET stuff. I have so many other sites you can contact me on – all inside the newsletter. The number of non-patients contacting me for other reasons (mainly to help with something) continues to grow and this is producing some great publicity and awareness.

Ronny Allan’s Private Facebook Group

As the number of people contacting me has increased so much, it’s becoming very difficult to answer all questions myself. I’ve therefore set up a chat room here (I’m not the only one who can answer questions!). This is not like many forums, it’s a place to make people feel safe and to discuss without many of the other distractions that can be found on forums and is moderated accordingly. I welcome all types of NET, people from any country and I also welcome carers/caregivers and medical people. It’s also a place where I will bring in expertise to chat about various issues. The first online chat was held on 28 Feb about the problems NET patients can have with being unable to produce sufficient digestive enzymes and the treatment to correct this issue PERT (Creon etc). The second chat will be about “Weight” and you can join the event by selecting ‘Going’ to this event (you will be kept up to date inside this event).
Join the chat group by clicking here (please answer the simple questions so you can be processed quicker). As at 1st October 2018, there were almost 1900 people in the group. I might cap at 2000 to maintain the integrity of the site.

New Audiences for NET Cancer

I said it was my aim to find new audiences for NETs rather than just share stuff within our own community. Sharing memes and animal pictures between patients is not my scene – I want to extend awareness much wider than that to ensure we move away from being a niche condition that no-one has heard of. I’m doing this all the time, although it may not always be apparent.

Engagements and Invites

  • I’m working on an invite to attend a pharma event in October at the guest of a major pharma company. I will update you when I’m allowed to release details but I can tell you now I will be speaking at the Eye for Pharma event in London alongside an important Pharma NET contact.
  • I just received an invite to help build an educational tool for NETs. More to follow when I am at liberty to tell you.
  • In July, I continued a dialogue in a patient app development coordinated by NET Patient Foundation. That said, I missed the meeting due to illness. I’m on the project team and happy to help if I can. I always react positively to requests for help from INCA’s national NET affiliates, providing I have the bandwidth available to support and it meets with my association criteria.
  • I’ve accepted an appointment to the Strategic Advisory Board on MultiMed Inc the owner of Cancer Knowledge Network based in Canada who have featured my articles in the past (https://cancerkn.com/) – They also publishes a magazine called Current Oncology which is Medline listed. This is not a NET site but my inclusion will no doubt raise the profile for us. Read more here.
  • Cure Magazine. I’ve been accepted as a ‘Cure Today’ contributor which means my articles will get a wider distribution than they do now. Cure Magazine has a readership of 1 million. Click here to read more. In October, I was featured in Cure Magazine twice. I have been so busy in 2017 but I have plans to increase my presence there in 2018:
“Cancer isn’t all about me”
“Poker Face or Cancer Card”
  • Twitter. I’m ‘extremely’ active on twitter and I find a lot of research stuff there, in addition to new audiences. I also use it to support other conditions and it’s mostly returned (i.e. others help with NET awareness and are made aware of NETs in the process). There are people regularly retweeting my stuff who do not have a personal interest in NETs and I am now regularly copied in on many tweets by those wishing to use my account as a vehicle for dissemination. In the last month, I tweeted 220 times on my personal account which led to over 140,000 views of my tweets. I was mentioned 145 times by other tweeters, 1648 people looked at my profile and I gained 74 new followers. My tweet “Ignore this post” remains the most tweeted article about NETs ever posted on twitter. Check it out – click here.
  • Daily Newsletter from my twitter feed (Nuzzel). There is so much on twitter that I could swamp the community Facebook site so I started a twitter newsletter via an app called Nuzzel which seeks out stuff I normally like. This has been a huge success from my point of view resulting in an increase in blog hits and to a wider population than just NETs. Click this link and sign up if you think this is something you’d be interested in receiving – you don’t need to have a twitter account to read, just sign up with an email to join over 600 other subscribers.
  • WEGO. I continue to be featured by ‘external’ organisations such as WEGO and my PODCAST is reaching new audiences – click here. In March, I managed to get into a very well contested short list for an article about the use of Facebook for health communities in light of the recent bad press for the service. The recent awards will continue to showcase my work which has the effect of spreading Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness to NEW audiences in addition to enriching my experience as a Patient Leader. WEGO is a fantastic organisation! They recently listed me as one of the top 5 bloggers to watch in 2018. This is great awareness and good feedback for my own efforts. Read more here. I have made the finals in the last 3 years and I was their winner in the 2018 Best in Show: Blog announced on 26 Sep 2018. Check out my WEGO Health profile here.
wego blog 2018 winner
Click the picture to watch the video of the live announcements

Social Media and Stats

Blog Milestone. At the end of last month, I accelerated past 709,000 blog views! Thank you all so much Keep sharing! On track for one million in the latter half of 2019.

Facebook Milestone. Almost 6800 ‘Likes’ by the end of the end of last month but my projected numbers are down so far in 2018 (despite a 20% increase in blog hits). The Facebook page is now my biggest outlet for awareness and education so please recommend this page to anyone you think would be interested. There are buttons to share the page and invite others to ‘Like’ it.

Also check out my sister Facebook sites here (go to these pages and click on ‘Like’)

These are fallback sites to counter the Facebook algorithm whereby you may not see all my posts on the main site (click on the links to see the pages)

Ronny Allan’s Community

Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness and Networking

Instagram

I’m expanding into Instagram to see how that goes. I’ve amassed over 300 followers to date. Initially, I’ll just be posting pictures of things that inspire me, mostly scenic photos of places I’ve been or want to go! I really enjoy these pictures, I hope you do too. You can follow me here: Click here to go to my Instagram page

Community Statistics (the measurement of my efforts on your behalf)

Figures

Summary

An amazing amount of awareness and hopefully, support for others. However, I cannot do this without you guys liking, commenting and sharing! The likes give me motivation, the comments and private messages give me inspiration or at least a chance to explain further – and they also keep me humble. The sharing gives me a bigger platform. A bigger platform generates more awareness.

Thanks for your great support in last month. Onward and upwards!

Thanks for reading

Please Share this post

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life

 

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Diagnosing the Undiagnosed


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 some cases, many people don’t 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. It’s not only a sneaky type of cancer but it’s also very complex. It’s a heterogeneous group of malignancies with a varied and confusing histology and nomenclature to match. As I said above, many people are asymptomatic for years whilst the tumor grows and some might say that it’s somewhat ‘lucky’ to have symptoms to help aid a diagnosis. Many find that a lack of knowledge of Neuroendocrine Cancer in primary care, doesn’t always produce results. Common misdiagnoses include (but not limited to), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other common digestive diseases, menopause, appendicitis, hypertension, gastritis, asthma. Neuroendocrine Cancer is much more likely to be diagnosed at secondary care if a referral for ‘something’ can be achieved.

……..cue internet searches (Dr Google)

I think the rise and the power of the internet and rise of social media applications is very much helping generate awareness and knowledge of Neuroendocrine Cancer and those looking for a diagnosis may find help in this way. I suspect this instant access to information has played its part in the diagnostic improvements I mentioned above. Take my own efforts for example, I’m a wee Scottish guy with a computer and I’m already accelerating towards a million blog views – there’s clearly a market for what I produce. In terms of those looking for a diagnosis, if only one gets an earlier diagnosis due to my site, I’ll be happy.

Unfortunately, the internet can often be a minefield and in many cases, can lead to quite unnecessary worry for those looking for a solution.

Incoming Questions

I’m contacted almost daily by the ‘undiagnosed’ who suspect they have Neuroendocrine Cancer, often because they appear to be displaying the symptoms of one of the associated syndromes. These are some of my most difficult questions. I’m always very wary of initially agreeing with their assumptions and logic, instead opting for straightforward detective work based on my knowledge of the different types of Neuroendocrine Cancer, knowledge of the best scans, tumour markers, hormone markers. And I always warn them that statistically, they are more likely to have a common condition than the less common Neuroendocrine Cancer.

Many have already had multiple doctor’s appointments and tests. If they have not yet had a scan, I encourage them to try to get one ‘by hook or by crook’. Despite what you read on patient forums and surveys, the vast majority of Neuroendocrine diagnoses will be triggered by a conventional imaging such as CT and/or MRI. If you can see it, you can detect it. 

When I first chat with the ‘undiagnosed’, I find many of them are fairly knowledgeable about Neuroendocrine Cancer and other health conditions, again confirming the power of the internet and the savvy ‘internet patient’. This is fine if you look in the right places of course – for certain things there are more wrong places on the internet than right ones.

If I have time, I’m happy to chat with these people, some are very frustrated – in fact some are so frustrated that they just want a diagnosis of something even if that something is really bad.  Some are not showing anything on any scan but in certain cases, it can be likened to finding a needle in a haystack.

What do you say to someone who is utterly convinced they have Neuroendocrine Cancer but CT/MRI/Octreoscan/Ga68 PET are all clear, Chromogranin A and 5HIAA are in range but they still say they have (say) diarrhea with its potential for literally thousands of differential diagnoses. It’s a tough gig.

Example:

My scan came back normal. That should be good news. But, if there is no tumor, how can I be suffering from all the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome? Is that diagnosis wrong? Are the urine and blood test results wrong? I’m awaiting a MRI scan to take another look to see if the doctor can find anything. I don’t know what they’ll find. I don’t want them to find anything. But I’m afraid of what will happen if they don’t.

Anon

Patient Forums

I always let the undiagnosed know that Neuroendocrine Cancer patients are some of the most friendliest and helpful people you can meet, they will treat you as one of their own. There will be a number of diagnosed people online who have gone through what the undiagnosed are going through, so they will both sympathise and emphasise. But … this can often have the adverse effect of pushing them into believing they must have Neuroendocrine Cancer. This makes for interesting discussions given the number of people who automatically assume that ‘flushing’ or ‘diarrhea’ (as described by the undiagnosed) must be Neuroendocrine Cancer without any reference to the many differential diagnoses and the context of what that actually means in Neuroendocrine Cancer terms.

10 Questions to ask your doctor/specialist for those Diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer (and where to find a specialist)

I once wrote an article for DIAGNOSED NET Patients suggesting 10 Questions to ask their doctor. So I wanted to take a step back in context, using the knowledge I now have, and put myself in the shoes of someone who thinks they may have Neuroendocrine Cancer but is not yet diagnosed.

Key questions to ask your doctor/specialist for those trying to confirm or discount Neuroendocrine Cancer

Dear undiagnosed people. I totally understand your fear. There’s nothing worse than being ill and not knowing what illness you have. I’ve therefore compiled a list of 3 key questions for you to ask – think of it as a tick list of things to ask your doctor to do or check . I have linked several background articles for you to prepare your case. However, I cannot promise your doctor will agree or take any action, in fact some might be annoyed about the lack of trust. However, doing your homework really helps, including diaries and other evidence.

I also wouldn’t say that a negative to all the questions will mean you definitely do not have Neuroendocrine Cancer but at least these questions might provide your doctor and yourself with some food for thought, perhaps leading to the diagnosis of ‘something’. The questions below assume that routine blood tests have been done, including Full Blood Count, Liver, Renal, Bone, Glucose.

Questions for the UNDIAGNOSED to ask their treating physician

“I think I might have a type of cancer known as Neuroendocrine Cancer or Neuroendocrine Tumours (NET) because <<< insert your own story>>>. Would you please consider the following tests and checks:”

1. Chromogranin A (CgA) is a marker which is quite sensitive for Neuroendocrine Tumours, essentially measuring tumour bulk potentially indicating the presence of Neuroendocrine Tumours. There can be other reasons for an elevated CgA figure, including the patient’s use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI) (see the article for an alterative test where this is the case). Read more here – Neuroendocrine Cancer – Tumour and Hormone Marker tests.

2. 5HIAA is a hormone marker for the most common type of NET, particularly if the patient is presenting with flushing and diarrhea. Many NETs have associated syndromes and hormone markers can be a guide to help with diagnostics. Read more about 5HIAA and other hormone markers for different types of NET and different syndromes here Neuroendocrine Cancer – Tumour and Hormone Marker tests.

3. Scans. Most NETs can be seen on a CT scan although liver metastasis can often show more clearly on an MRI. There are also nuclear scan options to confirm conventional imaging findings. Some NETs may be accessible via endoscopy and ultrasounds can also give hints for further investigation. In some cases, nuclear scans will find things that conventional imaging cannot because radionuclides can normally pick up oversecreting tumours. Read more in my article “If you can see it, you can detect it”.

You can hear two NET specialists talking about the issues surrounding the diagnostics here.

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

patients included

wego-blog-2018-winner

Neuroendocrine Cancer is not a ‘type’ of another Cancer ….. PERIOD!


Now the dust has settled on the death and funeral of Neuroendocrine Cancer patient Aretha Franklin, the community needs to review the strategy for how we explain the nomenclature of Neuroendocrine Cancer to outsiders including the media, and including doctors.

About 95% of the articles I read about Aretha Franklin stated she had Pancreatic Cancer. Only a few quoted her physician who clumsily said “Pancreatic Cancer of the Neuroendocrine Type”. Her death certificate quoted “Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Cancer”. Despite this, the media outlet which published her death certificate still led the article with the headline “Pancreatic Cancer”. Exactly the same thing happened with Steve Jobs and a few others. And that’s only the ones we know about – how many other pe0ple are being labelled and documented with the wrong cancer type?

I cannot read the minds of the healthcare professionals and media when they compile their press releases and articles but I’m fairly certain they simply do not understand that Neuroendocrine Cancer is a cancer within its own right and is not a type of another cancer. They simply do not understand the term ‘Neuroendocrine’ and they think the readership won’t either, and so it’s probably easer just to leave that bit out. The result is that a person has, or dies with, is labelled with the wrong cancer type, which is then published and embedded into the annals of the internet and spreads like wildfire (fake news), and Neuroendocrine Cancer is once again robbed of much needed awareness. Our community needs to start focusing more on these types of awareness issues rather than continually flaunting pictures of black and white striped animals.

I’m even starting to think that the well known term used in Neuroendocrine Cancer circles, ‘Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor’ or pNET for short, is actually working against us because of the inclusion of the organ as the first word of the term. Going forward, I will be using Neuroendocrine Cancer with a pancreatic primary, etc.

Neuroendocrine Cancer is NOT a type of another cancer PERIOD!

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Read my Cure Magazine contributions

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

Please Share this post

 

 

RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter Covering August 2018

RIP Aretha Franklin – Neuroendocrine Cancer

Summary for August 2018

NET News

Several headlines covering the past month:

1. The death of Aretha Franklin was a shock to her many fans around the world, including myself. I had no idea she was a Neuroendocrine Cancer patient. However, it would appear her death is being assigned as ‘Pancreatic Cancer’ mainly due to a rather clumsy statement from her physician. Despite the fact that her death certificate specifically confirms Neuroendocrine Cancer, we will be fighting a hard battle for years to come. The same thing happened with Steve Jobs, although I suspect we have now won that battle despite frequently news articles saying Pancreatic Cancer. Read about Aretha Franklin here and check out the link to her death certificate – I believe this is the most concrete evidence of her type of cancer. Click here for Aretha.

2. PRRT in UK took a step forward when NICE finally approved the drug (Lu-177) for use in England and there is mention of some direction for Wales in the document (I’m trying to find out what it means for Wales). Scotland had already been approved last month and I assume Northern Ireland will continue to access elsewhere in UK via an NHS inter-region funds transfer until facilities are in place. You can read the NICE approval document which also has a very interesting ‘Implementation’ section. Click here to read.

3, The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a proposal on their desk to harmonise the grading structure for all types of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NEN). I’ve actually been ahead of the game for over a year since I found out this was coming and it’s reflected in my 18 month old post on Staging and Grading. However, their proposals are interesting as they are recommending the final removal of the last vestiges of the word ‘Carcinoid‘, something I’ve been pushing for in the community for some time. I’ll be constructing a new article confirming some of the detail in due course.

Personal News

My NET. I await the output from a meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon to address the new issues identified my routine surveillance scan and a subsequent Ga68 PET/CT. The holiday season will soon be over, fortunately the issues are not classed as urgent at this stage. You can read about my Ga68 PET/CT experience here and my fibrosis issues here.

WEGO Health Awards. I also await the results of the WEGO Health Award Finals. Many thanks for all your votes which I noticed were over 1000 by the time the voting ended. The finalists will be announced on 4th September. Check out my WEGO Health profile here.

Blog Site Activity in August

Due to the vagaries of Facebook inner workings, some of these articles created or updated in August 2018 may not have even shown on your timeline. So, ICYMI …….here’s a summary with links, includes updated blogs. You can actually sign up to receive my blog articles direct to your inbox when published – subscribe here.

I wish I had another cancer – not about me but about ‘cancer Olympics’ we see online – there’s a twist to this one though.
RIP Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin – Neuroendocrine Cancer. Very said news but we are currently battling to ensure awareness comes to Neuroendocrine Cancer.
J Nucl Med 2017 Mar 58(3) 451-7, FIGURE 2 (1) 64Cu-DOTATATE – a potential addition to the Somatostatin Receptor PET Imaging for Neuroendocrine Cancer? news from the Nuclear PET scan industry of interest to NETs plus why there is a shortage of Ga68 PET radionuclide in USA.
prrt update PRRT Update – patients please read and advise on new locations. Contains the patient provided update on new locations for insurance funded PRRT in USA. PLUS news of PRRT approval in the United Kingdom
Newsletter July 18 RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter July 2018 – in case you missed it.
Your-favourite-articles-1.jpg Your favourite posts. The numbers are so big so the list is now too long – revised list now for anything above 5000 hits
Upgraded from 7 to 8 tips for conquering fear
My most viewed article and updated now to include Aretha Franklin – The Human Anatomy of Neuroendocrine Cancer

There have been many distractions in August 2018 but following the Aretha headline, I broke all records for hightest numbers of viewing in one day, in one week and in one month. I almost made 40,000 views. Here are the top 10 most read articles which contributed to August’s figures:

RIP Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin – Neuroendocrine Cancer More stats 7,608
The Human Anatomy of Neuroendocrine Cancer More stats 3,985
Home page / Archives More stats 1,831
Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – Home Page More stats 1,232
I wish I had another cancer More stats 1,185
Chemotherapy for Neuroendocrine Cancer More stats 807
Neuroendocrine Cancer – Ronny Allan: Background to my Diagnosis and Treatment More stats 778
Ever wondered what caused your NET? More stats 765
Neuroendocrine Cancer – normally slow but always sneaky More stats 756
Neuroendocrine Tumours – Let’s give Carcinoid Crisis a red card! More stats 639

Other Activity

I’m constantly looking for opportunities to spread awareness and advance the cause of Neuroendocrine Cancer patients. Thank you all so much for the support in helping me do this.

  • Please join my 2018 awareness campaign event here (select ‘Going’)

  • I continue to receive a steady flow of private contacts, mainly from patients seeking information. I don’t have an issue with private contact but please note my disclaimer
  • Please also note that due to sheer numbers of requests, I cannot accept telephone or video calls on a one to one basis. Please just message me and I will respond – see “Send Message” button when you CLICK HERE. (also please ‘Like’ this page if you have not already done so). On a personal note, please do not send me friend requests on my personal Facebook page, I get so many and want to keep this little area of ‘sanity’ free of NET stuff. I have so many other sites you can contact me on – all inside the newsletter. The number of non-patients contacting me for other reasons (mainly to help with something) continues to grow and this is producing some great publicity and awareness.

Ronny Allan’s Group

As the number of people contacting me has increased so much, it’s becoming very difficult to answer all questions myself. I’ve therefore set up a chat room here (I’m not the only one who can answer questions!). This is not like many forums, it’s a place to make people feel safe and to discuss without many of the other distractions that can be found on forums and is moderated accordingly. I welcome all types of NET, people from any country and I also welcome carers/caregivers and medical people. It’s also a place where I will bring in expertise to chat about various issues. The first online chat was held on 28 Feb about the problems NET patients can have with being unable to produce sufficient digestive enzymes and the treatment to correct this issue PERT (Creon etc).

Join the chat group by clicking here (please answer the simple questions so you can be processed quicker). As at 31st August 2018, there were almost 1650 people in the group. I might cap at 2000 to maintain the integrity of the site.

New Audiences for NET Cancer

I said it was my aim to find new audiences for NETs rather than just share stuff within our own community. Sharing memes and animal pictures between patients is not my scene – I want to extend awareness much wider than that to ensure we move away from being a niche condition that no-one has heard of. I’m doing this all the time, although it may not always be apparent.

Engagements and Invites

  • I’m working on an invite to attend a pharma event in October at the guest of a major pharma company. I will update you when I’m allowed to release details but I can tell you now I will be speaking at the Eye for Pharma event in London alongside an important Pharma NET contact.
  • In July, I continued a dialogue in a patient app development coordinated by NET Patient Foundation. That said, I missed the meeting due to illness. I’m on the project team and happy to help if I can. I always react positively to requests for help from INCA’s national NET affiliates, providing I have the bandwidth available to support.
  • I’ve accepted an appointment to the Strategic Advisory Board on MultiMed Inc the owner of Cancer Knowledge Network based in Canada who have featured my articles in the past (https://cancerkn.com/) – They also publishes a magazine called Current Oncology which is Medline listed. This is not a NET site but my inclusion will no doubt raise the profile for us. Read more here.
  • Some of you will remember the invite to Berlin for a ‘Patients included’ event, This was not a NET Cancer event but I was invited due to my wider healthcare advocate work. That was a tough gig but great experience. There’s a summary file here and I have been invited back next year and my involvement is still being worked out.

Article features

  • Cure Magazine. I’ve been accepted as a ‘Cure Today’ contributor which means my articles will get a wider distribution than they do now. Cure Magazine has a readership of 1 million. Click here to read more. In October, I was featured in Cure Magazine twice. I have been so busy in 2017 but I have plans to increase my presence there in 2018:
“Cancer isn’t all about me”
“Poker Face or Cancer Card”
  • Twitter. I’m ‘extremely’ active on twitter and I find a lot of research stuff there, in addition to new audiences. I also use it to support other conditions and it’s mostly returned (i.e. others help with NET awareness and are made aware of NETs in the process). There are people regularly retweeting my stuff who do not have a personal interest in NETs and I am now regularly copied in on many tweets by those wishing to use my account as a vehicle for dissemination. In the last month, I tweeted 211 times on my personal account which led to over 138,000 views of my tweets. I was mentioned 109 times by other tweeters, 2012 people looked at my profile and I gained 30 new followers. My tweet “Ignore this post” remains the most tweeted article about NETs ever posted on twitter. Check it out – click here.
  • Daily Newsletter from my twitter feed (Nuzzel). There is so much on twitter that I could swamp the community Facebook site so I started a twitter newsletter via an app called Nuzzel which seeks out stuff I normally like. This has been a huge success from my point of view resulting in an increase in blog hits and to a wider population than just NETs. Click this link and sign up if you think this is something you’d be interested in receiving – you don’t need to have a twitter account to read, just sign up with an email.
  • WEGO. I continue to be featured by ‘external’ organisations such as WEGO and my PODCAST is reaching new audiences – click here. In March, I managed to get into a very well contested short list for an article about the use of Facebook for health communities in light of the recent bad press for the service. The recent awards will continue to showcase my work which has the effect of spreading Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness to NEW audiences in addition to enriching my experience as a Patient Leader. WEGO is a fantastic organisation! They recently listed me as one of the top 5 bloggers to watch in 2018. This is great awareness and good feedback for my own efforts. Read more here. WEGO Health Awards 2018I also await the results of the WEGO Health Award Finals. Many thanks for all your votes which I noticed were over 1000 by the time the voting ended. The finalists will be announced on 4th September. Check out my WEGO Health profile here.

Social Media and Stats

Blog Milestone. At the end of August, I accelerated past 683,000 blog views! Thank you all so much Keep sharing! On track for one million in the latter half of 2019.

Facebook Milestone. Surpassed 6641 followers by the end of August but my projected numbers are down so far in 2018 (despite a 20% increase in blog hits). The Facebook page is now my biggest outlet for awareness and education so please recommend this page to anyone you think would be interested. There are buttons to share the page and invite others to ‘Like’ it.

Also check out my sister Facebook sites here (go to these pages and click on ‘Like’)

These are fallback sites to counter the Facebook algorithm whereby you may not see all my posts on the main site (click on the links to see the pages)

Ronny Allan’s Community

Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness and Networking

Instagram

I’m expanding into Instagram to see how that goes. I’ve amassed over 250 followers to date. Initially, I’ll just be posting pictures of things that inspire me, mostly scenic photos of places I’ve been or want to go! I really enjoy these pictures, I hope you do too. You can follow me here: Click here to go to my Instagram page

Community Statistics (the measurement of my efforts on your behalf)

Figures

Summary

An amazing amount of awareness and hopefully, support for others. However, I cannot do this without you guys liking, commenting and sharing! The likes give me motivation, the comments and private messages give me inspiration or at least a chance to explain further – and they also keep me humble. The sharing gives me a bigger platform. A bigger platform generates more awareness.

Thanks for your great support in AUGUST. Onwards and upwards!

Thanks for reading

Please Share this post

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life

64Cu-DOTATATE – a potential expansion of the Somatostatin Receptor PET Imaging for Neuroendocrine Cancer?


Edit 10 Jan 2019: RadioMedix and Curium Announce FDA Fast Track Designation For 64Cu-Dotatate.  Read more by clicking here.

Curium and RadioMedix Inc. announce an exclusive agreement to develop and commercialize 64Cu-Dotatate, an investigational positron emission tomography (PET) diagnostic agent for patients with Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs). RadioMedix is currently engaged in Phase III clinical trials of the agent and expects to file a New Drug Application with the Food and Drug Administration in 2019. This partnership builds on the initial development work conducted by RadioMedix and will benefit from Curium’s regulatory, manufacturing, distribution, and commercial expertise. The radionuclide is not new, it’s been in use for some time, mainly in Denmark.

64Cu is a PET isotope that can be produced at a central location in quantities to meet the commercial needs of hospitals and imaging centers without the supply limitations of nuclear generator-based PET isotopes,” said Ebrahim Delpassand, MD, CEO of RadioMedix. “Once approved, 64Cu-Dotatate will be available to patients in medical centers with PET capability across the country. This will address the shortage or lack of availability of somatostatin analogue PET agents that we are currently experiencing in many parts of the U.S.”

Ga68 PET Shortages explained

This statement is in relation to the current shortage of Ga68 PET radionuclide. For those not aware, the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) has written a letter to the FDA about ongoing shortages of generators that produce gallium-68 (Ga-68), a radioisotope used regularly in medical imaging. The letter—available here.

The letter explains that Ga-68 is currently used to produce NETSPOT from Advanced Accelerator Applications (a Novartis company), which was approved in June 2016 to help treat neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) in adult and pediatric patients using PET. NETSPOT, however, is only approved using specific generators. And those generators are only approved for either 400 uses or one year, whichever comes first. This has led to shortages throughout the United States.

SNMMI notes some possible remedies for this shortage. For instance, “a temporary exemption to the 400-elution limit would have a major impact on NETSPOT capacity for patients,” according to the letter. In addition, using a wider variety of generators to produce NETSPOT or using cyclotron-produced gallium chloride are two other methods that could improve production in a relatively short amount of time. “Further discussion with the manufacturers is necessary,” the authors added.

Read more about Ga68 PET and its use in Neuroendocrine Cancer – click here. Worth also noting that RadioMedix is also involved in a number of NET related initiatives including:

1. Trials for a new type of PRRT called ‘Targeted Alpha-emitter Therapy (TAT) – I’ve written about this previously. Read my article here.
2. An exclusive distributor for the TM Isotopen Technologien München AG (ITM) PRRT product currently in trial. I wrote about this here.

How does 64Cu-Dotatate compare with Ga68 PET and Octreotide Scans?

To learn more about previous studies on 64Cu-Dotatate, here’s 2 articles published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine which are a head to head comparison of 64Cu-Dotatate with Ga68 Dotatoc and with 111 Indium Octreotide (Octreoscan).

Head-to-Head Comparison of 64Cu-DOTATATE and 68Ga-DOTATOC PET/CT: A Prospective Study of 59 Patients with Neuroendocrine Tumors – http://jnm.snmjournals.org/content/58/3/451.full

PET/CT (left) and PET (right) scans of patient with intestinal NET and multiple metastases. More lesions are seen in intestinal region with 64Cu-DOTATATE than with 68Ga-DOTATOC.

Conclusion: 64Cu-DOTATATE has advantages over 68Ga-DOTATOC in the detection of lesions in NET patients. Although patient-based sensitivity was the same for 64Cu-DOTATATE and 68Ga-DOTATOC in this cohort, significantly more lesions were detected by 64Cu-DOTATATE. Furthermore, the shelf life of more than 24 h and the scanning window of at least 3 h make 64Cu-DOTATATE favorable and easy to use in the clinical setting.

64Cu-DOTATATE PET for Neuroendocrine Tumors: A Prospective Head-to-Head Comparison with 111In-DTPA-Octreotide in 112 Patients –http://jnm.snmjournals.org/content/56/6/847.full

Multiple small liver metastases (>10), peritoneal solitary tumor mass, and 3 lymph node metastases shown on 64Cu-DOTATATE PET/CT in patient with pancreatic NET. No foci were detected by 111In-DTPA-OC SPECT (Precedence scanner). All findings on PET were confirmed to be true-positive. (A) 111In-DTPA-OC planar images. (B) 64Cu-DOTATATE maximum-intensity-projection image with arrows pointing at liver and lymph node metastases. Insert is fused PET/CT of peritoneal solitary tumor mass. (C) Axial CT and SPECT of liver. (D) Axial CT and PET of liver revealing several small liver metastases.

Conclusion: With these results, we demonstrate that 64Cu-DOTATATE is far superior to 111In-DTPA-OC in diagnostic performance in NET patients. Therefore, we do not hesitate to recommend implementation of 64Cu-DOTATATE as a replacement for 111In-DTPA-OC.

Summary

The shortage of Ga68 PET radionuclide caused by limitations of the generators in use is unfortunate. Reading the SNMMI letter, I think progress can be made downstream. However, the introduction of a new scanning agent could be useful as long as the trials prove its safety and efficiently and is comparable to current tools. There is no news of any plans to extend this potential new radionuclide outside the US but I suspect that would change following an FDA approval.

If you can see it, you can detect it!

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Read my Cure Magazine contributions

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

patients included

Please Share this post

RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter JULY 2018

Newsletter July 18

Summary for July

Personal News 

Another unusual month, after a bizarre June.  The chest infection has gone but still awaiting results of an x-ray to confirm.  July was supposed to be partly holiday but that was cancelled due to illness.  The chest infection caused a 4kg weight loss and only half of this has returned to date.  I also got the results of my first ever Ga68 PET Scan and this resulted in an article below. No longer a boring stable patient but nothing that needs doing imminently. Many thanks to all the messages which continue to arrive both public and privately, I’m most grateful.  I received my 100th Lanreotide earlier in the month and I’m still here following my 8 year ‘cancerversary’ on 26 July 2018.  Many of you are still here too – thanks for the wonderful comments to this Facebook post – click here.

NET News

PRRT in UK took a step forward when both the Scottish Medicines Consortium and NICE approved the drug (Lu-177) for use in Scotland and England respectively.  Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to access elsewhere in UK via an NHS inter-region funds transfer until facilities are in place.  That said, currently there are no PRRT facilities in Scotland (that I know of) and very few in England.  Watch this space.

Blog Site Activity in July

Due to the vagaries of Facebook inner workings, some of these articles created or updated in July 2018 may not have even shown on your timeline.  So, ICYMI …….here’s a summary with links, includes updated blogs. You can actually sign up to receive my blog articles direct to your inbox when published – subscribe here.

 PET-CT-ScannerNeuroendocrine Cancer: Ga68 PET Scan – a game changer?

G68 PET Scans – a game changer? 

My latest article following the results of my first Ga68 PET scan. I’m no longer a ‘boring’ stable patient.

  Neuroendocrine Cancer – Mesenteric and Retroperitoneal Fibrosis – an unsolved mystery?

a long-awaited article about something which has plagued me since diagnosis but has now had an impact on my potential treatment strategy.

  “What are you doing this afternoon”

Words which triggered my diagnosis.  I got a scan.

PRRT Update – patients please read and advise on new locations.  Contains the patient provided update on new locations for insurance funded PRRT in USA.

Lanreotide – 100 shots!

My 100th Lanreotide birthday!

Will you vote for Ronny Allan?

I need your votes to progress into the finals of the WEGO Health Awards.  Please see how you can help inside this article.

Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels – did I miss any?
   177Lu-DOTA-EB-TATE – Long-lasting radionuclide therapy for advanced neuroendocrine tumors proves effective

news of a new PRRT trial

RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter June 2018 – in case you missed it.

There have been many distractions in July 2018 but a respectable ~28,000 views.  Here are the top 10 most read articles which contributed to July’s figures:

Neuroendocrine Cancer – normally slow but always sneaky More stats 2,730
Home page / Archives More stats 1,977
Neuroendocrine Cancer: Ga68 PET Scan – a game changer? More stats 1,506
Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – Home Page More stats 1,047
Diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer? – 10 questions to ask your doctor (and where to find a NET Specialist) More stats 943
“What are you doing this afternoon” More stats 678
Neuroendocrine Cancer – Ronny Allan: Background to my Diagnosis and Treatment More stats 627
RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter JUNE 2018 More stats 620
Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – Grade and Stage (incorporating WHO 2017 changes) More stats 619
177Lu-DOTA-EB-TATE – Long-lasting radionuclide therapy for advanced neuroendocrine tumors proves effective More stats 606

Other Activity

I’m constantly looking for opportunities to spread awareness and advance the cause of Neuroendocrine Cancer patients.  Thank you all so much for the support in helping me do this.

  • Please join my 2018 awareness campaign event here (select ‘Going’)

  • I continue to receive a steady flow of private contacts, mainly from patients seeking information.  I don’t have an issue with private contact but please note my disclaimer
  • Please also note that due to sheer numbers of requests, I cannot accept telephone or video calls on a one to one basis. Please just message me and I will respond – see “Send Message” button when you CLICK HERE. (also please ‘Like’ this page if you have not already done so). On a personal note, please do not send me friend requests on my personal Facebook page, I get so many and want to keep this little area of ‘sanity’ free of NET stuff.  I have so many other sites you can contact me on – all inside the newsletter. The number of non-patients contacting me for other reasons (mainly to help with something) continues to grow and this is producing some great publicity and awareness.

Ronny Allan’s Group


As the number of people contacting me has increased so much, it’s becoming very difficult to answer all questions myself. I’ve therefore set up a chat room here (I’m not the only one who can answer questions!).  This is not like many forums, it’s a place to make people feel safe and to discuss without many of the other distractions that can be found on forums and is moderated accordingly.  I welcome all types of NET, people from any country and I also welcome carers/caregivers and medical people. It’s also a place where I will bring in expertise to chat about various issues.  The first online chat was held on 28 Feb about the problems NET patients can have with being unable to produce sufficient digestive enzymes and the treatment to correct this issue PERT (Creon etc).

Join the chat group by clicking here(please answer the simple questions so you can be processed quicker). As at 30 July 2018, there were almost 1400 people in the group. I might cap at 2000 to maintain the integrity of the site. 

New Audiences for NET Cancer

I said it was my aim to find new audiences for NETs rather than just share stuff within our own community. Sharing memes and animal pictures between patients is not my scene – I want to extend awareness much wider than that to ensure we move away from being a niche condition that no-one has heard of.  I’m doing this all the time, although it may not always be apparent.

Engagements and Invites

  • I’m working on an invite to attend a pharma event in October at the guest of a major pharma company. I will update you when I’m allowed to release details.
  • In July, I continued a dialogue in a patient app development coordinated by NET Patient Foundation.  That said, I missed the meeting due to illness. I’m on the project team and happy to help if I can. I always react positively to requests for help from INCA’s national NET affiliates, providing I have the bandwidth available to support.
  • I’ve accepted an appointment to the Strategic Advisory Board on MultiMed Inc the owner of Cancer Knowledge Network based in Canada who have featured my articles in the past (https://cancerkn.com/) – They also publishes a magazine called Current Oncology which is Medline listed. This is not a NET site but my inclusion will no doubt raise the profile for us. Read more here.
  • Some of you will remember the invite to Berlin for a ‘Patients included’ event,  This was not a NET Cancer event but I was invited due to my wider healthcare advocate work.  That was a tough gig but great experience.  There’s a summary file here and I have been invited back next year and my involvement is still being worked out.

Article features

  • Cure Magazine.  I’ve been accepted as a ‘Cure Today’ contributor which means my articles will get a wider distribution than they do now.  Cure Magazine has a readership of 1 million.  Click here to read more. In October, I was featured in Cure Magazine twice.  I have been so busy in 2017 but I have plans to increase my presence there in 2018:
“Cancer isn’t all about me”
“Poker Face or Cancer Card”
  • Twitter. I’m ‘extremely’ active on twitter and I find a lot of research stuff there, in addition to new audiences. I also use it to support other conditions and it’s mostly returned (i.e. others help with NET awareness and are made aware of NETs in the process).  There are people regularly retweeting my stuff who do not have a personal interest in NETs and I am now regularly copied in on many tweets by those wishing to use my account as a vehicle for dissemination. In the last month, I tweeted 179 times on my personal account which led to over 123,000 views.  I was mentioned 101 times by other tweeters, 1909 people looked at my profile and I gained 39 new followers.  My tweet “Ignore this post” remains the most tweeted article about NETs ever posted on twitter.  Check it out – click here.
  • Daily Newsletter from my twitter feed (Nuzzel).  There is so much on twitter that I could swamp the community Facebook site so I started a twitter newsletter via an app called Nuzzel which seeks out stuff I normally like. This has been a huge success from my point of view resulting in an increase in blog hits and to a wider population than just NETs. Click this link and sign up if you think this is something you’d be interested in receiving – you don’t need to have a twitter account to read, just sign up with an email.
  • WEGO. I continue to be featured by ‘external’ organisations such as WEGO and my PODCAST is reaching new audiences – click here.  In March, I managed to get into a very well contested short list for an article about the use of Facebook for health communities in light of the recent bad press for the service. The recent awards will continue to showcase my work which has the effect of spreading Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness to NEW audiences in addition to enriching my experience as a Patient Leader.  WEGO is a fantastic organisation!  They recently listed me as one of the top 5 bloggers to watch in 2018.  This is great awareness and good feedback for my own efforts.  Read more here.  Also note the 2018 voting is now open.  If you would like to vote for one of my five nominations, please see here for details – click here.

Social Media and Stats

Blog Milestone.  At the end of July, I accelerated past 640,000 blog views! Thank you all so much Keep sharing!  On track for one million in the latter half of 2019.

Facebook Milestone.  Surpassed 6430 followers by the end of July but my projected numbers are down so far in 2018 (despite a 20% increase in blog hits). The Facebook page is now my biggest outlet for awareness and education so please recommend this page to anyone you think would be interested. There are buttons to share the page and invite others to ‘Like’ it.

Also check out my sister Facebook sites here (go to these pages and click on ‘Like’)

These are fallback  sites to counter the Facebook algorithm whereby you may not see all my posts on the main site (click on the links to see the pages)

Ronny Allan’s Community

Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness and Networking

Instagram

I’m expanding into Instagram to see how that goes. I’ve amassed over 250 followers to date. Initially, I’ll just be posting pictures of things that inspire me, mostly scenic photos of places I’ve been or want to go!  I really enjoy these pictures, I hope you do too. You can follow me here:  Click here to go to my Instagram page

Community Statistics (the measurement of my efforts on your behalf)

Figures

Summary

An amazing amount of awareness and hopefully, support for others.  However, I cannot do this without you guys liking, commenting and sharing!  The likes give me motivation, the comments and private messages give me inspiration or at least a chance to explain further – and they also keep me humble.  The sharing gives me a bigger platform.  A bigger platform generates more awareness.

Thanks for your great support in JULY.  Onwards and upwards!

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook.  Like my page for even more news.  I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life

 

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Fibrosis – an unsolved mystery?


Background

It has long been observed that certain Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) are often associated with their ability to secrete hormones and these substances are thought to be responsible for the collection of symptoms which include (but not limited to) diarrhea, flushing and wheezing.  One of the lesser known aspects of this disease is the development of fibrosis, both local and distant. These fibrotic complications may lead to considerable morbidity. They can also result in incidental diagnoses of NETs after causing abdominal obstructions.

The most well known form of fibrosis is ‘Hedinger Syndrome’ (so-called Carcinoid Heart Disease) tightly associated with midgut NETs and will not be covered further. However, mesenteric fibrosis is actually more common and also associated with midgut NETs.  There are other less common locations involved including retroperitoneal fibrosis, pleural and pulmonary fibrosis and skin fibrosis.

According to a paper (abstract linked below) by Professor Martyn Caplin (et al) regarding mesenteric fibrosis, “it often has a characteristic appearance of a mesenteric mass with linear soft tissue opacities radiating outward in a “wheel spoke” pattern associated with distortion of the surrounding tissues” (see graphic below).

The mesentery and retroperitoneum areas

The mesentery and retroperitoneum are complex to describe but think of the mesentery as something holding the small intestine together with all its folds and the retroperitoneum describes the part of the abdomen that is generally closer to your backbone than to your belly button, i.e. behind the intestines.

Often labelled ‘Desmoplasia’, it is easily spotted on CT and MRI scans and is one of the unusual features of NETs vs other types of cancer.  Some examples are below: