My invisible illness is not invisible to me

My invisible illness is not invisible to me

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
The term invisible illness refers to any medical condition that is not outwardly visible to others, even healthcare professionals. Invisible illnesses encompass a broad range of conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, dementia, psychiatric illness, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer.  Many Neuroendocrine Cancer patients look outwardly healthy, and this can often lead to a lack of appreciation of the potential dangers lurking in their life, the person's actual capabilities, and how they cope with their condition. I am sure those reading who have a Neuroendocrine Cancer diagnosis will find something similar to their own experiences. Growing invisibly inside me for years before making a vague announcementI had no idea the cancer was growing in me for years. Perhaps some of my routine illnesses weren't as routine as I thought.  Sorry too late, I'm metastatic,…
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Clinical Trial: Testing the Use of Chemotherapy After Surgery for High-Risk Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors

Clinical Trial: Testing the Use of Chemotherapy After Surgery for High-Risk Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors

Clinical Trials, Treatment
An interesting trial centred on SW USA.   The use of CAPTEM following surgery in high-risk pancreatic NETs (G2/G3 well-differentiated).  Also includes the use of NETest at 3 time points, which is very interesting considering the recent withdrawal of Chromogranin A from US NET Guidelines.  (Read about NETest here). Randomized Phase II Trial of Postoperative Adjuvant Capecitabine and Temozolomide versus Observation in High-Risk Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (S2104) is a recently activated National Clinical Trials Network randomized phase II trial designed to compare CAPTEM chemotherapy versus observation following resection of pNETs (see Figure 2). Patients with well-differentiated grade 2 or 3 (Ki-67 up to 55%) pNETS with a Zaidi score of ≥3 who underwent resection (or ablation) for either localized disease with or without up to five liver metastases are eligible for…
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20th November 2010 – feeling perkier

20th November 2010 – feeling perkier

Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Every year I cast my mind back to this time in 2010. Diagnosed on 26th July that year, I was in hospital from 8th - 26th November, an extended period due to complications.  At that point, I had been keeping my diagnosis within close family and friends and my manager at work.  People at work and my wider list of friends were probably wondering what was going on with me.  Cleary, I let my emotions slip by posting this on Facebook on 20th November 2010. Perhaps this was my way of opening up.  That was 11 days after the surgery, so I guess it took a while to feel almost normal. I had a big surgery! I had some issues along the way. But after 10 days I had got through…
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Small Intestine Neuroendocrine Tumours (SI NETs): To cut or not to cut?

Small Intestine Neuroendocrine Tumours (SI NETs): To cut or not to cut?

Treatment
Small Intestine Neuroendocrine Tumours (SI NET) are one of the most common types of Neuroendocrine Cancer, and also one of the most challenging to diagnose and then treat. Patients can have a very good outlook even when presenting with metastatic disease.  However, it's true to say that some NET centres of excellence (CoE) or multi-disciplinary team (MDT) see a lot of SI NET patients have built up considerable experience in treating them, including the use of surgery.  The surgical challenges are such that a surgeon not experienced in treating these cases may shy away or think they are inoperable, whereas MDTs or CoEs potentially have the experience available to operate or to make sound judgements based on their own experience.  At the very least, they can offer a second opinion. …
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Every picture tells a story (point, click, read)

Every picture tells a story (point, click, read)

Awareness, Clinical Trials, Diet and Nutrition, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Newsletters, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
I always try to use graphics for a number of pictures, I admit mainly to catch people's attention but also because sometimes a picture on its own tells a story or at least provides a great introduction to one. If the picture catches your eye, clicking on will take you to the text.  This post will auto update as new blogs are published. thanks for reading and sharing! Scroll, point, click, read, share! Click here and answer all questions to join my private Facebook group Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email 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 –…
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Treatment for Neuroendocrine Cancer – a summary for patients

Treatment for Neuroendocrine Cancer – a summary for patients

Treatment
ScopeThis summary provides an overview of the types of therapy known for treating Neuroendocrine Cancer. They will have been approved at least by one national or regional approval agency, may not be available or approved in your own country; and may appear in clinical guidelines for the treatment of Neuroendocrine Cancer.Clinical trials will not be covered, although it's noted that some of the approved treatments listed may be in follow on trials either to prove new coverage or used in combination with another drug.  For a list of clinical trials covered by the author, click here. This summary will not include complementary or alternative treatment but may cover or overlap with experimental treatment.          Who recommends the best treatment for my condition? Different types of doctors often work together to create a…
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Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours – to cut or not to cut

Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours – to cut or not to cut

Treatment
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…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: a needle in a haystack?

Neuroendocrine Cancer: a needle in a haystack?

Patient Advocacy
Reviewed and edited 3rd May 2022It'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 and also in many other places), 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 may use the following terms in this post:Neuroendocrine Neoplasm (NENs) - a combination term for both well differentiated Neuroendocrine Tumours  (NETs) and Neuroendocrine Carcinomas (NECs)I wanted to cover two different aspects of the problem of finding NENs.…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – is normally slow growing BUT …..

Neuroendocrine Cancer – is normally slow growing BUT …..

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
But I have a lot of be thankful for[caption id="attachment_24013" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] click on the picture to read[/caption]  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 announcementSorry 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 INSIDESNo 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…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Clinical Trial: Advanced Oncology Formula enterade®

Neuroendocrine Cancer Clinical Trial: Advanced Oncology Formula enterade®

Diet and Nutrition, Treatment
Diarrhea is a huge subject for NET patients, whether it's caused by the tumor itself (i.e. a syndrome), due to treatment, knock on effects of treatment, or some other reason, it can dramatically limit qualify of life.  Working out the root cause can be problematic even for medical teams. I wrote about these issues before in my article Neuroendocrine Cancer - the diarrhea jigsaw. So when I saw the data from a trial of something called enterade®, I was immediately drawn to investigate.  I don't normally write articles on over the counter commercial products but this one is an exception given that it has been classed as a medical food since 2012 and is also used to rehydrate patients undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy for cancer (so not just for NETs).…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer and Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT) – the Digested Version (Nutrition Series Article 5)

Neuroendocrine Cancer and Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT) – the Digested Version (Nutrition Series Article 5)

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
After 7 years of avoiding pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT), I finally asked for some on a trial basis at the end of 2017.  To be honest, for some time, I thought they were really only needed in the NET world for those with pancreatic issues (pNETs).  I've always known I've had some digestive issues related to malabsorption. However, I'm not losing weight - this has been stable for some years (but see below).  Plus my key vitamin levels (B12 and D) are in range.  However, I had been struggling with a lot of bloating issues, thus the trial.  You know me, I like to research and analyse such things! I've actually written about a lot of these issues in my Nutrition series ..... so this is now 'Article Number…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – surveillance and follow up

Neuroendocrine Cancer – surveillance and follow up

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Since 2010 I've had a lot of surveillance and testing. More than people can imagine. I can see from various comments on my public pages and posts within my private group, that some people get a lot more than me. It's not true to say we all get the same, there are many factors including stage, grade, type of Neuroendocrine Neoplasm, healthcare system, miscellaneous problems, therapy, even age.In the first year or two after diagnosis, I seemed to be a continuous testing phase but that was mainly due to seeing so many different doctors for so many different issues. In reality, I was seeing and being assessed by my Oncologist around 3-month intervals, eventually moving to four. After that, I moved to 6 months but due to issues in 2013/2014,…
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Update:  Management of Neuroendocrine Tumors

Update: Management of Neuroendocrine Tumors

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Treatment
This is an excellent and positive video based overview of where we are with the Management of NETs.  This is a presentation from a NET Specialist (who some of you may know) presenting to a "GI Malignancies" conference.  This is therefore not only awareness of NETs, it's also some good education for non NET GI experts who may only know the very basics. Useful for patients too!  I met Dr Strosberg in Barcelona (ENETS 2017) and thanked him for his presentational and scientific paper output which I often use in my articles. The classification picture is good as it explains the different facets of NETs and how NETs are classified and categorised in a general way - not seen it done this way before.   Slightly out of date as…
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Opinion: Neuroendocrine Cancer – Can it be cured?

Opinion: Neuroendocrine Cancer – Can it be cured?

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINION:"Cured" - In cancer, this word can evoke a number of emotions. Interestingly, not all these emotions will be as positive as you might think. If you want to spark a heated debate on a Neuroendocrine Cancer patient forum, just mention that you've been cured. I'm not taking any sides by using this statement, just stating what actually happens and the deeply held views that persist in community groups. One important factor in some of this thinking is that many people still remember the days where most diagnoses were late and many followed years of misdiagnoses for other conditions. But the latest statistics (and even these can be said to be quite old) indicate things are changing. The massive increase in incidence rates indicates earlier diagnoses and it's true for…
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Weight – the NET Effect

Weight – the NET Effect

Diet and Nutrition, Survivorship
Firstly, let me say that I have no intention of advising you how to lose or gain weight!  Rather, I'd like to discuss what factors might be involved and why people with NETs might lose or gain weight either at diagnosis or after treatment.  Clearly, I can talk freely about my own experience and associated weight issues. If nothing else, it might help some in thinking about what is causing their own weight issues.I once wrote a patient story for an organisation and the headline was "Did you mean to lose weight".  Those were actually the words a nurse said to me after I nonchalantly told her I thought I'd lost some weight (....about half a stone).  I answered the question with "no" and this response triggered a sequence of…
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The shock effect never wears off

The shock effect never wears off

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
Patient stories are key to any awareness campaign.  Nothing like a human being standing up and letting you know about their experience.  Many are positive examples of how they are overcoming their trials and tribulations, others tell stories of a struggle. They all have different styles, some are the 'kick ass' type stories, some are just thankful, some are reflective - all of them are perfectly acceptable. I normally like to place myself somewhere in the middle with phrases like "I'm still here", although I can veer left and right when the mood takes me! Because of my social media footprint, I get a lot of private messages from people across the globe. Many are from people who have no wish to go public and that's fine. Many are from…
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NETwork with Ronny © – Community Newsletter SEPTEMBER 2017

NETwork with Ronny © – Community Newsletter SEPTEMBER 2017

Newsletters
Hi NETworkers! Welcome to my monthly 'Community' newsletter. This is September 2017's monthly summary of Ronny Allan's Community news, views and ICYMI (in case you missed it!). NET News The following news items may be of interest:   The European Commission (EC) approved Lu-177 Lutathera (PRRT) on 28 Sep.  This is the first time the drug has ever been approved, despite being in use for  over 10 years.  In USA, the FDA gave a date of 28 Jan 2018 for its decision to approve or not.  Read more here.   The European Commission approved the use of XERMELO (telotristat ethyl) for use in Carcinoid Syndrome diarrhea not adequately controlled by somatostatin analogues. Read more here.   The US FDA approved an add-on indication for Lanreotide (Somatuline) for treatment of carcinoid syndrome, adding…
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NETwork with Ronny © – Community Newsletter JULY 2017

NETwork with Ronny © – Community Newsletter JULY 2017

Newsletters
  Hi NETworkers! Welcome to my monthly 'Community' newsletter. This is July 2017's monthly summary of Ronny Allan's Community news, views and ICYMI (in case you missed it!).  July 26th was the 'Cancerversary' of my diagnosis - I'm still here after 7 years and I'm apparently a veritable newbie!  There's some great comments on my 'I'm Still Here' post - check them out ... 'click here' NET News The following news items may be of interest: Telotristat Ethyl (Xermelo) takes a step forward to being approved in Europe. Click here. PRRT takes a step forward to being approved in USA.  Click here. Ipsen launches the German version of 'Living with NETs' website.  Click here. What's happening on my Blog Site?   As per above, a quiet month.  Due to the vagaries of…
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ASCO 2017 – Let’s talk about NETs #ASCO17

ASCO 2017 – Let’s talk about NETs #ASCO17

Clinical Trials
ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) is one of the biggest cancer conferences in the world normally bringing together more than 30,000 oncology professionals from around the world to discuss state-of-the-art treatment modalities, new therapies, and ongoing controversies in the field.  As Neuroendorine Tumors is on a roll in terms of new treatments and continued research, we appear to be well represented with over 20 'extracts' submitted for review and display.  This is fairly complex stuff but much of it will be familiar to many.  I've filtered and extracted all the Neuroendocrine stuff into one list providing you with an easy to peruse table of contents, complete with relevant linkages if you need to read more.  For many the extract title and conclusion will be sufficiently educational or at least…
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Diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer? – 10 questions to ask your doctor (and where to find a NET Specialist Worldwide)

Diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer? – 10 questions to ask your doctor (and where to find a NET Specialist Worldwide)

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
On the day I was diagnosed, I hadn't really thought about questions, the only one I actually remember asking was "how long do I have left to live" (I watch too many movies!). On the day of diagnosis and a period beyond, people tend to feel emotions of shock, denial, anger and sadness, before going on to accept their situation. Yes, I 'googled' but not a great deal really - although some things I found did frighten me. I wish I had found this article way back then.As things progressed in the weeks after 'D-Day', I started to work out the sort of things to ask but even then, it was limited. I had been referred to an experienced NET team so I felt confident they would do whatever needed…
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Don’t believe the hype – Neuroendocrine Cancer Myths debunked

Don’t believe the hype – Neuroendocrine Cancer Myths debunked

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINIONThere's a lot of inaccurate and out of date information out there. Some is just a lack of understanding, some caused by out of date websites, often as a result of patient forum myth spreading. Some can only be described as propaganda. Some of it even comes from doctors and NET advocate organisations. Myth 1: All Neuroendocrine Tumours are benignNot true. By any scientific definition, the word 'tumour' means 'an abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumours may be benign (not cancerous), or malignant (cancerous)'. Sure, some NETs will be benign but a tumours which spreads away from the primary site cannot be benign by any scientific definition. However, since the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2010 classification…
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In the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life

In the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINION.  Date of Article March 2017.  In the last 24 months, there seems to have been announcement after announcement of new and/or upgraded/enhanced diagnostics and treatment types for Neuroendocrine Cancer.  Increased availability of radionuclide scans, increased availability of radionuclide therapies, combination therapies, increased availability of somatostatin analogues, biological therapies, enhanced surgical and minimally invasive techniques, new oral drugs for carcinoid syndrome, more trials including immunotherapy. Admittedly, some of the announcements are just expansions of existing therapies having been approved in new regions. Compared to some other cancers, even those which hit the headlines often, we appear to be doing not too badly. However, the pressure needs to stay on, all patients, regardless of where they live, need access to the best diagnostics and treatments for them, and at the requisite…
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NETwork with Ronny © – Newsletter February 2017

NETwork with Ronny © – Newsletter February 2017

Newsletters
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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It’s been 10 years since I saw a scalpel (….but my surgeon is still on speed dial)

It’s been 10 years since I saw a scalpel (….but my surgeon is still on speed dial)

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
In 2012, I had a bunch of lymph nodes removed. Two separate areas were resected, only one was showing growth but both were showing up as hotspots on an Octreoscan.  I had known since shortly after diagnosis in 2010 that 'hotspots' were showing in my left 'axillary' lymph nodes (armpit) and my left 'supraclavicular fossa' (SCF) lymph nodes (clavicle area). Some 10 months previously, I had a major liver resection, and 5 months prior to the liver resection, I had a small intestinal primary removed including work on some associated complications.  There had always been a plan to optimise cytoreduction of my distant metastases, it was just a matter of timing. I still can't get my head around why metastases from a small intestinal NET managed to get to this area but…
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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
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email 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…
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Road ahead closed – Bowel Obstructions

Road ahead closed – Bowel Obstructions

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
OK - we've gone through diagnosis; we've gone through treatment and now we need to live with the consequences of cancer and its treatment.  Not a day goes by when I don't feel some twinge or some minor pain, and I think 'what was that?'.  Fortunately, many things can just be day-to-day niggles or in my case, the perils of getting older! The natural tendency is to think your cancer is causing these things.... easy to say, but very often not easy to prove.  However, for Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) patients who have had surgery, anything that seems like a bowel obstruction is quite a scary thought (I suspect this is also an issue for other cancer types).  In fact, even before diagnosis, a bowel obstruction can be how the condition is…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Nodes, Nodules, Lesions (and false alarms!)

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Nodes, Nodules, Lesions (and false alarms!)

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
A fairly common disposition of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms is a primary with associated local/regional secondary's (e.g. lymph nodes), and often with liver metastases. Technically speaking, the liver is distant. However, many metastatic patients appear to have additional and odd appearances in even more distant places, including (but not limited to) the extremities and the head & neck. Certain things are known about the behaviour of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NENs) (a term for Neuroendocrine Tumours and Neuroendocrine Carcinoma) and specialists will be analysing many factors when working out the type of NEN and how it might behave. This is useful in cases of unknown primaries as it can give them clues to the possible location(s). Read more about these issues in my article "Needle in a Haystack".How does cancer spread? In addition to…
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Surgery for Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – to cut or not to cut?

Surgery for Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – to cut or not to cut?

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Reviewed and edited 26th September 2021Surgery can sometimes be a tough call (......to cut or not to cut?)It is an area where I have some sympathy for physicians and surgeons who sometimes have tough decisions to make. Surgery is risky, particularly where people are presenting in a weak condition, perhaps with very advanced disease, secondary illness and comorbidities. I also suspect age is a factor (I was surprised to find myself considered 'young' at 55). Physicians and surgeons need to weigh up these risks and the consequences of the surgery against a 'watch and wait' or alternative non-surgical approach. This would normally be discussed via a 'Tumor Board' or Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meeting. However, and although imaging helps, the situation is not really 100% clear until the surgeon 'gets inside'.…
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Neuroendocrine Tumours: a spotlight on Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma

Neuroendocrine Tumours: a spotlight on Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
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 of the gland is…
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Neuroendocrine Tumours (NET) – benign vs malignant

Neuroendocrine Tumours (NET) – benign vs malignant

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
OPINION:One of the most controversial aspects of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms, in particular low grade Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs), is the 'benign vs malignant' question.  It's been widely debated and it frequently patrols the various patient forums and other social media platforms. It raises emotions and it triggers many responses ..... at least from those willing to engage in the conversation. At best, this issue can cause confusion, at worst, it might contradict what new patients have been told by their physicians (....or not been told). I don't believe it's an exact science and can be challenging for a NET specialist let alone a doctor who is not familiar with the disease.Going forward I'm mostly intending to use the term Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) as that is where the problem lies.NANETS Guidance talks about the '...heterogeneous clinical…
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“You must be doing OK, you’ve not had chemotherapy”

“You must be doing OK, you’ve not had chemotherapy”

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
If there's a word which is synonymous with cancer, it's chemotherapy.  It's what most people have in their mind when they are talking to a cancer patient...... 'have you had chemotherapy' or 'when do you start chemotherapy'.I was nonchalantly asked by a friend some time ago 'how did you get on with chemotherapy' - he was surprised to hear I hadn't had it despite my widespread disease.  Cue - lengthy explanation!  I wasn't annoyed by the question; I just think people automatically assume every cancer patient must undergo some form of systemic chemotherapy.  If you read any newspaper article about cancer, they do nothing to dispel that myth, as many articles contain a story about a cancer patient with no hair.Sure, chemotherapy is not the nicest treatment to receive, and it does…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Hurry up and wait

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Hurry up and wait

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email When I was diagnosed with metastatic well differentiated Neuroendocrine Cancer on 26 July 2010, I just wanted them to hurry up and fix my body so I could get back to normal. My expectations of speed turned out to be wildly inaccurate and in hindsight, I was also wildly naïve. You see, with Neuroendocrine Cancer, particularly well-differentiated, low or medium grade tumours, it sometimes doesn't work as fast as you would think and there are good reasons for that. The complexity of the condition needs some consideration as the physicians work up a treatment plan. I'm quite happy and content they took their time, rather than rush into the wrong…
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Did you hear the one about the constipated NET patient?

Did you hear the one about the constipated NET patient?

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
In my neck of the woods, "did you hear the one about the ........." is normally a precursor to a witty comment, or a joke.   However, constipation for NET patients is not actually funny - read on.Certain types of Neuroendocrine Cancer are very heavily associated with diarrhea, either as a symptom of one of the NET Syndromes (yes there is more than one .....); or as a result of surgery or certain other treatments.  Occasionally, these symptoms and side effects can all combine to make it quite a nasty and worrying side effect.I must admit to being surprised to find myself with feelings of constipation from around 4-5 years after my treatment and I set about trying to find out why that might be. To understand why I got to this…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Patient Power!

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
There's a saying that the patient is the most underused person in healthcare and I think there's a lot of truth in that. However, I would suggest with Neuroendocrine Cancer, it's less true than for many other cancers. There are so many NET Cancer patients out there who know quite a lot about their cancer, and in some detail. Even the great Dr Liu once said that NET Patients frequently know more about NET Cancer than their doctors. If you go onto Twitter, if you go onto Facebook, if you read newspaper stories, you will find cancer patient stories in abundance and they will normally be patients diagnosed with the big 4 cancers. This is not surprising as these tend to affect more people.  However, the ratio of NET Cancer…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – the diarrhea jigsaw

Neuroendocrine Cancer – the diarrhea jigsaw

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

Not every illness is visible

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
I personally don't see myself as 'disabled' but I do have an invisible illness. I'm fit, can walk for miles, I even look quite healthy.  However, I live with the consequences of Neuroendocrine Cancer. These consequences differ from person to person but I know that some people with this disease have even met the criteria to be officially classed as 'disabled' through government schemes.  Judging by what I read, I have less debilitating issues than others, so I feel quite fortunate. That's not to say I don't have any issues at all - because I do! [caption id="attachment_13469" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Situation normal, right?[/caption] I was therefore delighted to see news of an initiative supporting invisible illnesses by Asda (for those outside UK, Asda is a major UK wide supermarket chain).  Asda have now recognised that many conditions can be classed as ‘invisible disabilities’ and…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Part 4 – Amines: Food for Thought?

Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Part 4 – Amines: Food for Thought?

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
reviewed and updated 12th Feb 2022Background.Nutrition is an important subject for many cancers, but it can be particularly important for many Neuroendocrine Cancer patients. When I started writing my nutrition series (I listed the other parts below), I said that my intention is not to tell you what to eat, even though that might be a challenge for many, and this theme continues. The issue with Nutrition and Diet, in general, is that it's very individual and what works for one may not work for another.I like to focus on why such things might have an effect - patients can then experiment and see what works for them. Sometimes very few changes are required and settling on a diet that works for you is the optimum solution. p.s. Not everyone has…
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Exercise and Cancer: Forward is Forward

Inspiration
One of the very first blog posts I wrote was about exercise. Basically I said it was like medicine and I have not changed that view much.  Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood but it's also known to help improve self-esteem and cognitive function.  You will not find a single healthcare institution that doesn't recommend exercise in any shape of form. All cancer patients should attempt to keep active and this is even more important if you are being treated for long-term cancer. Why? Because keeping active will not only help your physical condition but it will also help you cope mentally. There are numerous pieces of research which confirm cancer patients are at risk of succumbing to depression and anxiety in addition to issues with their…
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What you don’t know might kill you

What you don’t know might kill you

Awareness, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_16224" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Barbados heaven but I was oblivious to the fact that cancer was trying to kill me[/caption] A few weeks before I was diagnosed in July 2010, Chris and I flew off to Barbados on holiday.  Both of us were looking forward to a nice break after a hectic start to 2010.  When we got back, we both agreed it was the most relaxing holiday we had ever been on. However, what I didnt know all the time I was lying on a sunbed soaking up the Caribbean sun drinking 'pina coladas', was the fact that Neuroendocrine Tumours had been growing in my small intestine, had spread into my mesenteric lymph nodes, into my liver, into my left armpit and into my left clavicle area.  I also had…
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Intra-Operative RadioTheraphy (IORT) for Neuroendocrine Cancer – new landmark treatment launch

Awareness, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_6231" align="aligncenter" width="500"] IORT[/caption] New treatments seem to be appearing every month and that is good news for patients.  I have a personal connection to this one though.  In 2014, Chris and I walked along Hadrian's Wall, a 2,000-year-old World Heritage structure in Northern England.  This was part therapy for me but also part fund-raising to help pay for this new treatment which launches today in Southampton General Hospital (UK) which was recently awarded the coveted title of European NET Centre of Excellence (along with Bournemouth and Portsmouth Hospitals).  It is the first ever deployment of this type of treatment in UK and Chris and I were happy to shred the soles of our feet to support this worthy cause, particularly when the two guys behind the idea were my surgeon (Mr Neil…
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The 5 E’s (of Carcinoid Syndrome)

The 5 E’s (of Carcinoid Syndrome)

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Since my diagnosis, I seem to have been in a perpetual learning phase! What not to do, what not to eat, what not to read! However, early on in my experience, I came across a list of 'E' words (5 of them) which is a handy reminder for Carcinoid Syndrome patients, particularly those whose symptoms are not under control. When I say "carcinoid syndrome" in this article, I only mean the syndrome that is caused by what was once called "Carcinoid Tumors", i.e. mainly serotonin secreting types but include tumours which are well differentiated found in the small intestine, appendiceal, rectal, lung, and one or two other less common places. There are many variations of this list, but this is my take! I suspect some of this also applies to…
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Never mind the Bollocks – here’s the cancer

Never mind the Bollocks – here’s the cancer

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email [caption id="attachment_15574" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Graphics courtesy of The Sex Pistols[/caption]I don't tend to share some very personal stuff but this is on the boundary of that rule and there are some important messages to be teased out.  For those who follow my blog in detail, you may remember the post entitled "Neuroendocrine Cancer - Signs, Suspicions, Symptoms, Syndromes, Side-Effects, Secondary Illnesses, Comorbidities, and Coincidences" (now named "a difficult jigsaw)   As you can see from the title, I got hooked on a bunch of 'synonyms' that represent the difficulty in sorting out what can be attributed to Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) and what might be something else.  You'll note they all begin with the…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – it takes guts

Neuroendocrine Cancer – it takes guts

Survivorship
The majority of Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) are slow growing (well differentiated).  However, many tumours can be silent (non-functioning) for some years before they start to 'function' and inform you of their presence.  Even then, it may take some time to work out the real cause as the symptoms can mimic regular ailments.  Moreover, in most cases, the appearance of a functional tumour often indicates the disease has metastasised and could now be incurable. Some tumours will grow and metastasise without syndromes, i.e. they are non-functional. These may become functional at some point in the future.However, with most slow-growing NETs, this does not mean terminal as there are various treatment options even at Stage IV.  In fact, NETs are one example where surgery at the metastatic stage can often provide prognostic advantages denied…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – Incurable is not untreatable

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Incurable is not untreatable

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINION. When I was being officially told I had advanced and incurable cancer, I did what most people seem to do on films/TV ..... I asked "how long do I have".  The Oncologist started off with " ... perhaps just months ........".  That must have been quite a shock because for a few moments after that, I heard nothing - my brain was clearly still trying to process those words - I wasn't even feeling unwell! The really important bit I missed was him go on to say "...but with the right treatment, you should be able to live for a lot longer".  Fortunately, my wife Chris heard it all and I was refocused.  "OK Doc - let's go" I said.  Always take someone with you to take notes at important meetings with…
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Innovation at Royal Free – Lung Biopsy and Radio Frequency Ablation Service

Treatment
[caption id="attachment_4852" align="alignleft" width="301"] Image with permission from Dr Sam Hare (www.lungdiagnosis.com)[/caption] A team of radiologists and respiratory consultants who introduced a new and more efficient lung biopsy method at Barnet Hospital London, has been named the winner of the NHS Innovation Challenge Prize in the ‘cancer care’ category.  Barnet Hospital is run by the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust which is well known for its Neuroendocrine Cancer Centre of Excellence. Not happy with this, they've now gone on to introduce a new service combining this innovative biopsy system with Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) of tumours in the same procedure. Combined Biopsy with Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) This new service has significant advantages for those who have localised tumours less than 3cm and can't for whatever reason have surgery.  I've checked with…
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Alcohol – the NET Effect

Alcohol – the NET Effect

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
Opinion.Social Media is currently full of 'Dry January' articles and of course many charities will benefit as people will be motivated if they are abstaining from alcohol for a good cause. Nothing wrong with that and no doubt some individuals will also see it as a way to cut down or at least lessen the effects of a very wet December!I've never been a big drinker but I do like the odd beer now and then.  When I was diagnosed with metastatic Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs), I hadn't really thought much about how this might affect my body. It wasn't until I studied a bit more about my disease and the consequences of my treatment, that I decided I would cut right down.  This turned out to be a pretty drastic cut as I can count…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – a Doctor’s experience

General
[caption id="attachment_4617" align="alignleft" width="225"] Dr Michael Richardson - NET Cancer Patient[/caption] UNFORTUNATELY, MILL HILL TIMES HAVE REMOVED THE DOCTOR'S STORY FROM THEIR WEBSITE BUT I'M TRYING TO OBTAIN THE SCRIPT ELSEWHERE. When I was undergoing my initial treatment and surgery I didn't really have the knowledge I have now.  I was initially treated by experienced Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) specialists in an established NET Centre and I guess I felt comfortable with what was happening.  In hindsight, I wish I had studied the disease earlier as I would have understood at the time what was actually happening to my body and more fully understood the treatments I was to undergo. As we all know, Cancer knows no boundaries and even Doctors can succumb to his disease. Despite this, I was still surprised to…
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Lanreotide – it’s calling the shots!

Lanreotide – it’s calling the shots!

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

Neuroendocrine Cancer Survivor Wilko Johnson – from dying to living. Rock and Roll!

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
I recently blogged about a well-known BBC political reporter who has Neuroendocrine Cancer with a Lung Primary.  However, in the usual media 'double speak' which can sometimes pervade the coverage of such events, he is said to have Lung Cancer.  As I said in that article, sometimes with Neuroendocrine Cancer - the devil is in the detail and you just need to dig to find it. Annoying, we shouldn't need to dig as he doesn't have Lung Cancer.  I wrote about this anatomical issue here.  This is exactly what happened to Steve Jobs and Aretha Franklin.No sooner had I published the Nick Robinson article, I was alerted to the broadcasting of a film about rock star Wilko Johnson who has the most amazing story to tell. Wilko is a former member…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – a difficult jigsaw

Neuroendocrine Cancer – a difficult jigsaw

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
A couple of years ago, I received a request from a reader asking if I would write an article about all the symptoms experienced by a Neuroendocrine Cancer patient and how to sort out what is and what isn't associated with NETs.Although I chuckled and raised eyebrows at the request, inside I was genuinely humbled that someone thought I was capable of achieving this herculean task.  I actually gave it quite a bit of thought to the point of compiling a matrix of types of NET, main symptoms, cross-referenced with the symptoms of the most common reported comorbidities. After it started to look like it might be bigger than the Empire State Building, I came to the conclusion that it's an almost impossible task for a wee Scottish guy with…
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