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

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

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
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…
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ASCO 2017 – Let’s talk about NETs #ASCO17

ASCO 2017 – Let’s talk about NETs #ASCO17

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Technical NETs, Treatment
ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) is one of the biggest cancer conferences in the world normally bringing together more than 30,000 oncology professionals from around the world to discuss state-of-the-art treatment modalities, new therapies, and ongoing controversies in the field.  As Neuroendorine Tumors is on a roll in terms of new treatments and continued research, we appear to be well represented with over 20 'extracts' submitted for review and display.  This is fairly complex stuff but much of it will be familiar to many.  I've filtered and extracted all the Neuroendocrine stuff into one list providing you with an easy to peruse table of contents, complete with relevant linkages if you need to read more.  For many the extract title and conclusion will be sufficiently educational or at least…
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NETwork with Ronny © – Newsletter March 2017

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
  Hi NETworkers! Welcome to my fifth 'community' newsletter, the monthly summary of NET news, views and ICYMI (in case you missed it!). The highlight of the month was my attendance at the first ever Joint Patient-Physician symposium at ENETS Barcelona.  I remain thankful to INCA for the honour of attending and for the experience that came with it. It was also great to finally meet other NET advocates face to face for the first time.  Some of them have been great supporters since the inception of my blog and community. [caption width="500" id="attachment_9598" align="aligncenter"] with Grace Goldstein from Carcinoid Cancer Foundation[/caption] March was a slower month in blogging terms due to a number of external projects and a continuing flow of private messages. I don't have an issue with private contact…
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NETwork with Ronny © – Newsletter February 2017

NETwork with Ronny © – Newsletter February 2017

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Hi NETworkers! Welcome to my fourth 'community' newsletter, the monthly summary of NET news, views and ICYMI (in case you missed it!). February was a slower month in blogging terms due to a major increase in contact from people privately asking for advice and others asking me to support external projects. I don't have an issue with private contact but please note my disclaimer. I also had a winter cold for a few days, so I relaxed a bit. Only a short month but I managed to accumulate the second biggest monthly blog views ever (January 2017 will be difficult to beat).  Thank you all so much ♥ January's success also led to increased Facebook followers and I broke through the 4000 milestone with a plan to reach 5000 by the end of the year or before.  If I grew at…
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NETwork with Ronny © – Newsletter January 2017

NETwork with Ronny © – Newsletter January 2017

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Hi NETworkers! Welcome to my third 'community' newsletter, the monthly summary of NET news, views and ICYMI (in case you missed it!). January was a month for breaking records.  I recorded the biggest ever amount of views in any one day, any one week and now any one month and it will probably be a long time before they're broken again! This was mainly due to the fantastic support you showed for one particular blog post The Anatomy Of Neuroendocrine Cancer.  Thank you all so much ♥ January was also a month for making new friends after being invited to speak to an audience of 30 pharma managers at Ipsen's Germany HQ near Karlsruhe.  I was made very welcome by the Ipsen staff and I think it's great they want to hear the…
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Endoscopy for NETs – taking the camera to the tumour

Endoscopy for NETs – taking the camera to the tumour

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Technical NETs
An Endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of your body is examined using an instrument called an endoscope. This is a long, thin, flexible tube that has a light source and camera at one end. Images of the inside of your body are relayed to a television screen. Endoscopes can be inserted into the body through a natural opening, such as the mouth and down the throat, or through the bottom.  The mouth route is more accurately called a Gastroscopy and the anal route is called a Colonoscopy (or a reduced version called a Sigmoidoscopy).  An endoscope can also be inserted through a small cut (incision) made in the skin when keyhole surgery is being carried out. Gastroscopy During a routine 6 monthly check-up at the end of 2016, I mentioned to…
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NETwork with Ronny © – Newsletter December 2016

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
  Hi NETworkers! Welcome to my second 'community' newsletter, the monthly summary of NET news in Dec 2016, views and ICYMI (in case you missed it!). December was a particularly special month.  For the previous 3 months, I had been busily working behind the scenes and on my various social media presences to put on a good show for the 2016 WEGO Health Activist Awards.  This paid off and I won the Best in Show 'Community' category in addition to being shortlisted as one of 5 finalists in the blog category.  The community award was special because it means we all won the award as a part of this 'Community'.  I've picked up a whole new bunch of friends outside the NET world bringing much-needed exposure to NET Cancer. I had a quiet week resting before I…
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Lanreotide vs Octreotide

Lanreotide vs Octreotide

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Technical NETs, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_14732" align="aligncenter" width="502"] New delivery system for Lanreotide - solution and needle remains the same[/caption] Somatostatin Analogues are the 'workhorse' treatments for those living with NETs, particularly where certain syndromes are involved.  So not just for classic NETs with Carcinoid Syndrome but also for treating insulinoma, gastrinoma, glucagonoma and VIPoma (all types of pNETs) and others. They are most effective if the NETs express somatostatin receptors.  They also have an anti-tumour effect but more of a slowing down of growth rather than a killing or reduction of tumour size - but there are always outliers where such effects are displayed. Somatostatin is actually a naturally occurring hormone produced by the hypothalamus and some other tissues such as the pancreas and the gastrointestinal tract. However, it can only handle the normal release of hormones.  When…
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Neuroendocrine Tumours: a spotlight on Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma

Neuroendocrine Tumours: a spotlight on Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma

Awareness, Patient Advocacy, Technical NETs
  I spend a lot of time talking about the most common forms of Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs), but what about the less well-known types?  As part of my commitment to all types of NETs, I'd like to shine a light on two less common tumour types known as Pheochromocytomas and Paragangliomas - incidence rate approximately 8 per million per year. They are normally grouped together and the definitions below will confirm why.  If you think it's difficult to diagnose a mainstream NET, this particular sub-type is a real challenge. So, let's get definitions out of the way: Pheochromocytomas (Pheo for short) Pheochromocytomas are tumours of the adrenal gland that produce excess adrenaline. They arise from the central portion of the adrenal gland, which is called the adrenal medulla (the remainder…
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Neuroendocrine – don’t let it be a Crisis

Neuroendocrine – don’t let it be a Crisis

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Technical NETs, Treatment
  The word 'crisis' has a wide range of meanings and it's well used in the media to catch the reader's attention. Lately, the terms 'political crisis', financial 'crisis' and 'constitutional crisis' appear almost daily in media headlines. In a previous life, the term 'crisis management' was used daily in the work I was undertaking as I went from problem to problem, dampening or putting out fires (..... that's a metaphor!).  Thinking back, my adrenaline (epinephrine), norepinephrine, and cortisol must have been very busy!  However, in the world of Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs), 'crisis' has a very significant meaning and its very mention will make ears prick up.  The word 'crisis' is normally spoken or written using the term 'Carcinoid Crisis' given it is normally associated with those who have carcinoid syndrome.  However, I've studied and researched and it…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels

Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Technical NETs, Treatment
I think most people have had a form of medical testing at some point in their life, i.e. the sampling and testing of blood, urine, saliva, stool or body tissue. In a nutshell, the medical staff are just measuring the content of a 'substance' and then taking a view whether this is normal or not based on pre-determined ranges. These tests are normally done as a physician's reaction to symptom presentation or maintenance/surveillance of an existing diagnosed condition. Sometimes, abnormal results will lead to more specialist tests. In cancer, these tests are frequently called 'markers'. Most tumour markers are made by normal cells as well as by cancer cells; however, they are produced at much higher levels in cancerous conditions. These substances can be found in the blood, urine, stool, tumour…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Part 4 – Food for Thought?

Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Part 4 – Food for Thought?

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Technical NETs
  Nutrition is an important subject for many cancers but it is particularly important for Neuroendocrine Cancer.  In the previous parts of this series I focussed on the following: Article 1 - Vitamin and Mineral Challenges.   This was co-authored by Tara Whyand, UK's most experienced NET Specialist Dietician.  This blog provides a list of vitamins and minerals which NET Cancer patients are at risk for deficiencies, together with some of the symptoms which might be displayed in a deficiency scenario. Article 2 - Malabsorption.  Overlapping slightly into Part 1, this covers the main side effects of certain NET surgical procedures and other mainstream treatments. Input from Tara Whyand. Article 3 - 'Gut Health'.  This followed on from the first two blogs looking specifically at the issues caused by small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) as…
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The 5 E’s (of Carcinoid Syndrome)

The 5 E’s (of Carcinoid Syndrome)

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

Telotristat Ethyl (XERMELO®) – an oral treatment for Carcinoid Syndrome Diarrhea not adequately controlled by Somatostatin Analogues

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Technical NETs, Treatment
Telotristat Ethyl is an extremely significant introduction to the treatment of Carcinoid Syndrome diarrhea. It's the first addition to the standard of care in more than 16 years and the first time an oral syndrome treatment has been developed.  The drug was previously known as Telotristat Etiprate but was changed to Ethyl in Oct 2016. 'Etiprate' was previously a truncation of 'ethyl hippurate'.  The brand name is XERMELO®  UPDATE MARCH 2018  The March 2018 issue of Clinical Therapeutics provides the first report of the effects of XERMELO on changes in weight in patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) and carcinoid syndrome that participated in the TELESTAR study. You have to remember that XERMELO is approved for those with carcinoid syndrome diarrhea not adequately controlled by somatostatin analogues (author's note - i.e not for diarrhea caused…
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Carcinoid – What’s in a name?

Carcinoid – What’s in a name?

Awareness, Technical NETs
A quick primer on the word 'CARCINOID'.  It originates from the term 'Carcinoma-like'.  'CARCIN' is a truncation of Carcinoma (by definition cancerous or malignant tumour). 'OID' is a suffix meaning 'resembling' or 'like'.  This infers that Carcinoid cannot be a truly malignant tumour - thus the confusion (..... and anger!). The most worrying connotation of the use of the word ‘Carcinoid’ is the belief that they all have benign clinical and biological behaviour.  That is dangerous thinking which could end up killing people. There is now widespread use of the term Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) and this is based on the latest classification scheme pushed out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010 subsequently updated by WHO 2017.  The correct term for all types is actually Neuroendocrine Neoplasm (NEN) which is an umbralla…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes – Early Signs of a Late Diagnosis

Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes – Early Signs of a Late Diagnosis

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Technical NETs, Treatment
One of the curious things about Neuroendocrine Cancer (NETs going forward) is that it can very often exhibit one or more vague symptoms collectively known as a 'syndrome'.  Syndrome is an apt word to describe these complications as the most general meaning in medical terms is a group of symptoms that together are characteristic of a specific disorder or disease".  Having a syndrome can often be the difference between having a 'functional' condition or a non-functional' condition - see more below. This frequently makes Neuroendocrine Cancer very difficult to diagnose quickly.  It's a very devious disease. It's not all about Carcinoid Syndrome! Most people think of Carcinoid Syndrome when they discuss NETs. Anyone suggesting that all NET patients get carcinoid syndrome or that all symptoms of NETs are caused by carcinoid syndrome,…
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Please flush after use!

Please flush after use!

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Humour, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
In the past couple of years, I've read so many stories about the quite natural act of using a toilet (.....some more repeatable than others).  I think if there was a 'Bachelor of Science degree in Toiletry', I might pass with First Class Honours. I jest clearly but it's strange that such a routine activity for most can actually become quite scientific in the world of Neuroendocrine Cancer and other ailments which might be described in some scenarios as invisible illnesses. I also found myself smiling at the fact that flushing is connected with the toilet and a type of red warm feeling in the upper torso - the two main symptoms of the Carcinoid Syndrome associated with the most common type of Neuroendocrine Cancer.  "Please flush after use" - erm...yes sure but actually -…
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Carcinoid vs Neuroendocrine

Carcinoid vs Neuroendocrine

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Technical NETs
OPINION There's a constant debate regarding the validity of the term 'Carcinoid'.  I've posted about this a few times and as far as I know, the debate has been raging for some years. You may have noticed that 'Carcinoid' is often used as a standalone word and tends not to be suffixed with the word 'Cancer' or 'Tumour' - unlike Bowel Cancer, Breast Cancer, Prostrate Cancer, Lung Cancer, Brain Tumour, etc.  Nobody goes around saying "Breast" or "Bowel" do they?  But they happily say "Carcinoid".  Unfortunately, the term ‘Carcinoid’ has become entrenched in both pathology and clinical literature over the past 100 years. The main problem with the word Carcinoid is that it means different things to different people. Some use the term almost exclusively to designate serotonin-producing tumours that arise from the enterochromaffin cells that can…
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Surgery – the gift that keeps on giving

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

I woke up on NET Cancer day

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Technical NETs, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_2130" align="alignnone" width="600"] what I mainly remember was my wife Chris holding my hand which gave me a great deal of much-needed comfort and security[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_10856" align="alignnone" width="300"] Featured this post[/caption] [caption id="attachment_10865" align="alignnone" width="252"] Featured this post[/caption]   It was 10th November 2010 just after midnight. I gradually woke up after a marathon 9 hour surgery - the first of what was to be several visits to an operating theatre.  The last thing I remembered before going 'under' was the voices of the surgical staff. When I woke up, I remember it being dark and I appeared to be constrained and pinned down by the dozen or so tubes going in and out of my weak and battered body.  I can still remember the feeling today, it was…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – Hormones

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Hormones

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Technical NETs
Until I was diagnosed with metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer, I didn't have a clue about hormones - it's one of those things you just take for granted. However, hormones are vital to human health (male and female) and it's only when things go wrong you suddenly appreciate how important they are ........like a lot of other things in life I suppose! The presence of over-secreting hormones (often called peptides throughout) is useful to aid diagnosis albeit it often (but not always) means the tumours have metastasized. It's also a frequent indication that the person has an associated NET syndrome. This is a really complex area and to understand the hormone problems associated with Neuroendocrine Cancer, you need to have a basic knowledge of the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems.  I've no intention…
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