Gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors – often referred to as NET – are tumors formed by neuroendocrine cells in the intestinal tract. Neuroendocrine tumors act differently from other types of tumors, and your care team at Miami Cancer Center is made up of skilled medical oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists who specialize in this unique type of tumor.
The gastrointestinal specialists at Miami Cancer Center work to combine medical expertise and compassionate care to create the best treatment option for you. Our oncologists have access to a range of cutting-edge technologies to diagnose and treat your specific cancer, with the goal of creating a personalized plan that effectively treats your disease.
Our multidisciplinary team focuses on the whole patient, from diagnosis, to treatment, to post-cancer life. Each individualized cancer care plan includes innovative treatments and services, including nutritional advice, physical rehabilitation and pain management services, to address your whole journey as a patient. Not only do we strive to find the treatment that is right for your cancer, we also want to develop the treatment that is right for you as a patient.
What is a gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumor?
A gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumor is a tumor formed by the neuroendocrine cells. When neuroendocrine tumors grow too much, they can form a tumor.
Neuroendocrine cells function like a combination of nerve cells and hormone-producing endocrine cells. These cells can be found throughout different organs, but the majority of neuroendocrine cells are found in the digestive track, where they help control digestive juices and how the body digests food.
What are the types of gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors?
Neuroendocrine tumors can be non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous. If the tumor is cancerous, it is called a neuroendocrine cancer. Neuroendocrine cancers – also called neuroendocrine carcinomas – can spread to other organs. The types of neuroendocrine cancers are based on how the cancer cells look:
- Well-differentiated neuroendocrine cancers - these tumors do not look very abnormal and grow slowly.
- Poorly-differentiated neuroendocrine cancers - these tumors look very abnormal and spread quickly.
- Moderately-differentiated neuroendocrine cancers - these cancers share features of poorly-differentiated and well-differentiated cancers.
What are the risk factors for gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors?
Risk factors for gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors can include:
- Having a weakened immune system, including people with HIV/AIDS or those who have had their immune system suppressed because of an organ transplant.
- Having certain inherited (genetic) conditions, including neurofibromatosis type 1, tuberous sclerosis and von Hippel Lindau disease.
What can you do to prevent gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors?
- Most risk factors for gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors are unavoidable, which means there is no way to lower your risk for developing the disease.