Neuroendocrine Tumors

Cancer cellAt Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center, patients with neuroendocrine tumors receive their care from a team of nationally recognized experts in the diagnosis, treatment and research of NETs.

Our approach to cancer neuroendocrine tumor (NET) diagnosis and treatment provides better outcomes and gives you access to the most advanced treatments, surgical techniques and clinical trials. If you have a neuroendocrine tumor, our team of NETs specialists will work together to create personalized treatment plans tailored to your unique needs.

Penn-Led Trial Leads to First Approval of Therapy for Neuroendocrine Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first ever nonsurgical treatment for the rare neuroendocrine cancers, pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. The approval was based on a trial led by researchers in the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

What is a Neuroendocrine Tumor?

A neuroendocrine tumor (NET) is a tumor that forms from cells that release hormones in response to a signal from the nervous system. Some examples of neuroendocrine tumors are carcinoid tumors, islet cell tumors, pheochromocytomas and Merkel cell cancers.

Neuroendocrine tumors are often small and can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Carcinoid tumors most commonly develop in the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, appendix and colon. Rarely, carcinoid tumors occur in the lungs and bronchial tissue. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PETs) typically develop in the pancreas and duodenum.

Neuroendocrine Tumor Symptoms

Not all NETs cause symptoms. However, because they originate from hormone-producing tissues, the symptoms they cause can be linked to the release of various hormones into your bloodstream, causing:

  • Abdominal pain
  • A feeling of abdominal fullness
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Clammy skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Facial flushing
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels)
  • Jaundice
  • Low blood sugar
  • Nausea
  • Persistent cough/hoarseness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin rash
  • Sweating
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing

Oncology Navigators

Every step of neuroendocrine tumor treatment, from a cancer diagnosis and treatment to forming a survivorship plan, comes with different needs and issues that should be addressed.

Oncology navigators are committed to making sure you are as comfortable as possible throughout your time at Penn Medicine. They are experts in navigating complex health care situations and serve as a consistent point of contact and a reliable source for advice, support and direction for patients and families.