Small intestine, large surgery

Small intestine, large surgery

Patient Advocacy, Treatment
My own experienceAt my diagnostic consultation, the Oncologist told me I had Stage 4 metastatic Small Intestine NET (SI NET). He also told me that surgery would almost definitely be on the cards and would be referring me to an experienced surgeon in a different hospital for assessment. I was assured this surgeon was one of the most experienced in the south of England for NETs. This was before the current multi disciplinary team was setup, but it did all seem so very organised and I felt comfortable, albeit apprehensive. Worth pointing out that surgery is not normally offered in cancer at Stage 4 but the slow growing nature of most NETs allows for some leeway here.  Statistics indicate that around 50% of SI NET present as metastatic cases, I'd…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Fibrosis – an unsolved mystery?

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Fibrosis – an unsolved mystery?

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Treatment
What happened to me?Since I was diagnosed in 2010, I've always known I've had a fibrosis issue in the retroperitoneal area, as it was actually identified on my very first CT Scan, which triggered my diagnosis.  Here's how the radiologist described it - "There is a rind of abnormal tissue surrounding the aorta extending distally from below the renal vessels. This measures up to 15mm in thickness".  He went on to describe that "almost certainly malignant".  The second and third scans would go on to describe as "retroperitoneal fibrosis" and "a plaque-like substance".  Interestingly the fibrosis itself does not appear to 'light up' on nuclear scans indicating it was not cancerous (see below).I really didn't know what to make of this issue at diagnosis, although I did know the aorta…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Surgery – Small Intestine NET, my own experience (part 2)

Neuroendocrine Cancer Surgery – Small Intestine NET, my own experience (part 2)

Treatment
The surgery on 9 Nov 2010 had lasted 9 hours but according to my surgeon Mr Neil Pearce (on the left on the picture below), I tolerated it well.  My first week was quite tough and I outlined how this went in my blog 'patient experience' part 1.  If you've not read it yet, please click on this link before reading any further. By this stage of my stay, I'm now minus most of the temporary tubes attached to my body, a good sign of recovery. The one which seemed to offer me the greatest freedom when removed was the urine catheter. It doubled my speed down the hospital corridor during my daily exercises.  It was also so much easier to get to the toilet, a much-frequented area at the time…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Surgery – Small Intestine NET, my own experience (part 1)

Neuroendocrine Cancer Surgery – Small Intestine NET, my own experience (part 1)

Survivorship, Treatment
This is a personal story but a more technical description of Small Intestine surgery for a NET can be found by clicking here.  This is not normal bowel surgery. Often the decision to cut or not to cut is a tough one. My own experience 8th - 26th November 2010 Memories of my 18 day stay in hospital from 8 - 26 Nov 2010, are not only reminding me of how important that particular treatment was to be, but also how surreal it felt at the time. Some of it is still a blur, particularly the early days where the morphine was in control.  For many NET patients, surgery can be a mainstay treatment, even for those with metastatic disease.  In fact, I now know from my own research that…
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I look well but you should see my insides

I look well but you should see my insides

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

Neuroendocrine Cancer – don’t break my heart!

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

Surgery for NETs – Chop Chop

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

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