What words are used to describe neuroendocrine tumors?
NET stands for "neuroendocrine tumor." But you may hear different words being used to describe your neuroendocrine tumor. Your doctor may use some of the words below.
A term doctors use to refer to all types of NET, especially those in the gastrointestinal tract (digestive system).
Carcinoid is a slow-growing type of NET that originates in the cells of the neuroendocrine system. Doctors refer to a carcinoid as a type of NET that releases extreme amounts of hormones, such as the hormone serotonin. This results in carcinoid syndrome. Carcinoid syndrome is the term used to describe symptoms such as flushing, diarrhea, cardiac failure, and bronchoconstriction.
A NET found in the gastrointestinal tract (digestive system) or the pancreas.
Islet cell tumor
Islet cells are found in the pancreas. This is a term used for a pancreatic NET.
Gastrinoma, glucagonoma, insulinoma, or vasoactive intestinal peptide tumor (VIPoma)
Types of pancreatic NET that release hormones. These NET cause different symptoms and sets of symptoms (syndromes).
Typical or atypical carcinoid
Terms sometimes used for different NET in the lungs.
Small-cell lung carcinoma
A form of lung cancer that is smaller than normal cells that may be considered a NET.
A form of lung cancer that is larger than normal cells that may be considered a NET.
Medullary thyroid carcinoma
A NET found in the thyroid gland.
Merkel cell carcinoma
A NET of the skin. A type of skin cancer.
Words used to describe your NET
Benign and malignant
Not all tumors mean cancer. They can be benign or malignant.
Benign tumors are not considered cancer. They are generally harmless and slow growing. Benign tumors usually look like normal tissue and may not spread to nearby tissue.
Malignant tumors are considered cancer. They grow uncontrollably. Malignant tumors are different from surrounding tissue. They may invade nearby tissue or spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Some NET may be benign while others are malignant. Regardless of growth rate (some tumors grow faster and some others may grow and spread at a slower rate), ALL NET have the potential to become malignant. Malignant neuroendocrine tumors are also known as neuroendocrine cancer.
Your doctor may view a sample of your neuroendocrine tumor under a microscope to see how serious it is. Differentiation describes how your tumor looks compared with the normal tissue around it.
If your NET is well differentiated, it may grow and spread very slowly.
If your NET is poorly differentiated, it often grows and spreads quickly.
Functional and nonfunctional NET
Functional and nonfunctional are words doctors use to describe whether or not NET release hormones.
Functional NET, or secretory tumors, make and release hormones.
Functional NET cause different symptoms depending on the hormones they release, or secrete. For example, a NET that releases too much serotonin may cause a set of symptoms called carcinoid syndrome.
Nonfunctional NET, or nonsecretory tumors, do not make or release hormones.
Nonfunctional NET may cause symptoms as they grow.