A sign is something that can be observed and recognized by a doctor or healthcare professional (for example, a rash). A symptom is something that only the person experiencing it can feel and know (for example, pain or tiredness). Signs and symptoms of neuroendocrine cancer may vary depending on the type and location of the tumour, its rate of growth and the type of hormoneshormonesA substance that regulates specific body functions, such as metabolism, growth and reproduction. it releases.
Neuroendocrine cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages because the tumour may be small, slow-growing or non-functional (it doesn’t produce hormones). Symptoms appear once the tumour grows into surrounding tissues and organs or starts to produce hormones. Early symptoms may be vague and non-specific, which makes neuroendocrine cancer hard to diagnose.
Late signs and symptoms occur as the cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body, including other organs. Examples of late symptoms related to neuroendocrine tumour size or spread include:
Functional neuroendocrine cancers produce hormones. Symptoms of these cancers are related to the specific action of the hormone produced. For example:
Carcinoid syndrome is a group of symptoms linked to too much serotonin released by one type of neuroendocrine tumour. Carcinoid syndrome affects approximately 10% of people with neuroendocrine tumours. Symptoms include:
Carcinoid crisis is caused by a sudden release of too much serotonin hormone. It is a severe episode of intense flushing, diarrhea, wheezing, palpitations and extreme changes in blood pressure. It may be spontaneous or triggered by anesthesia, chemotherapy or surgery. It can be life-threatening. Drugs like octreotide, which act like somatostatin to prevent the tumour from producing hormones, have significantly improved treatment of carcinoid crisis.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s peer support program is a telephone support service that matches cancer patients and their caregivers with specially trained volunteers.