General information

Neuroendocrine tumors (NEN) are rare diseases. Only 2 out of 100,000 people are affected per year. NEN comprise a wide spectrum of tumors: these range from tumors with low malignant potential (NET) that may be cured after surgical removal to extremely aggressive carcinomas (NEC). Therefore the prognosis is very variable.

Usually, these tumors arise in the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, or the pancreas. The cells that degenerate into tumor cells are hormone-producing cells (neuroendocrine cells). Depending on which hormone the tumor produces, a wide variety of symptoms can occur. These may include diarrhea, stomach ulcers, low blood sugar, skin flush (hot flushes), or weight loss. Frequently, the tumors do not produce hormones, however, and the disease is discovered by chance.

In order to assess the disease and the rare genetic variants (multiple endocrine neoplasia) it is necessary to take tissue and blood samples as well as conduct an imaging examination.