What is a Neuroendocrine Tumour?
‘NETs’ is the abbreviation for Neuroendocrine Tumours. NETs originate from the cells that have the ability to make hormones and can be found anywhere in the body. NET develops when cells grow abnormally.
NETs affecting the Liver
The liver is usually not a primary site of the body where a NET can develop. The liver is usually affected as a secondary site by metastasis i.e. the spread from another organ or body part.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may be non-specific symptoms such as abdominal pain, weight loss and nausea. For syndromic patients they may experience symptoms such as flushing, diarrhoea and palpitations. Other syndromic patients may have recurrent ulcers that do not heal. The complex symptomology is one possible reason that NETs are difficult to diagnose. In women, it is often thought that the signs could overlap with menopausal type symptoms. Diagnosis is often delayed as symptoms may sometimes be misdiagnosed, particularly in patients who experience abdominal pain which is initially thought of as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The average time to diagnosis can be three to seven years from the time of onset meaning that often patients have advanced disease which has spread to other organs such as the liver, bones and lymph nodes.
How common are NETs?
New cases in the UK are thought to be relatively rare with 3 new cases per 100,000 population, however as they are often slow growing there are about 35 cases living per 100,000 population. This means that there are about 10,000 people in the UK with NETs in any year. This rate makes them more common than gastric cancer, myeloma cancer and non- Hodgkin and Lymphoma, making this type not quite as rare as thought.