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Pathology refers to the examination of tissue under a microscope to find out whether it's cancerous or non-cancerous and to determine the type and nature of the tumour. A tumour of the neuroendocrine system can be benign, potentially malignant or malignant. This is determined by the tumour’s ability to spread to different sites, rate of growth and degree of differentiation (how abnormal the cells look under a microscope.
Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are generally slow growing and can be functional (they produce hormones) or non-functional (they do not produce hormones).
The diffuse neuroendocrine system is formed by neuroendocrine cells that are scattered throughout the body, but are mainly found in the digestive system and respiratory system.
They can develop in the following areas of the gastrointestinal tract:
Gastrointestinal and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours and carcinomas are named based on the type of cell they develop in and the hormones the tumours produce:
Lung neuroendocrine tumours and carcinomas are the second largest group of neuroendocrine tumours. They include the following:
These tumours start in the neuroendocrine cells of various endocrine glands:
Most people diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoma of unknown primary (CUP) have advanced disease. They will need aggressive treatment to reduce the tumours as much as possible.
Rarely, neuroendocrine carcinomas can occur elsewhere in the body, including the breast, kidney, urinary bladder and prostate. Other rare neuroendocrine disorders include multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndromes — genetic disorders that usually cause multiple tumours to develop in the endocrine glands
Once the type of tumour has been diagnosed, the doctor will also consider:
All of this information helps the doctor make a treatment plan.
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