Receiving a cancer diagnosis is life-changing news. At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, we’re here to support you through your cancer journey. Our multidisciplinary cancer care team will work together to customize your treatment plan to ensure the best outcomes with the least impact on your body.
Because neuroendocrine tumors can occur in a number of locations in the body and impact the body in diverse ways, they require a broad range of treatment options. This level of complexity makes a multidisciplinary approach especially important in the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors. The team of experts involved in your cancer treatment will include medical, radiation and surgical oncologists, oncology nurses, as well as supportive health care providers like social workers, pharmacists, counselors, dieticians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
Your treatment depends on several factors:
A surgical cancer oncologist can remove the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue (known as a margin) through surgery. Most tumors that haven’t spread can be treated with surgery alone. When removing all of the tumor isn’t possible, debulking surgery may be an option. Debulking surgery removes as much of the tumor as possible and may relieve symptoms. However, it generally does not cure neuroendocrine tumors.
Targeted therapies use drugs to target and kill the tumor’s abnormal genes, proteins or the tissue around the tumor that promote tumor growth and survival. For advanced neuroendocrine tumors, targeted therapies are usually combined with chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy tumor cells and keep the tumor from growing, dividing and making more cells. Chemotherapy is typically used when your neuroendocrine tumor has spread to other organs, the tumor is causing severe side effects or targeted therapies are no longer working. Your chemotherapy schedule will be specific to your individual needs and will include a set number of cycles over a set period of time. Chemotherapy may be used in combination with other treatments.
Powerful high energy beams are used to kill tumor cells without damaging the surrounding tissue. The most common type of radiation treatment for neuroendocrine tumors is external-beam radiation therapy, which delivers the radiation from a machine outside of the body. Your radiation therapy schedule will be specific to your individual needs and will include a certain number of radiation treatments given over a set period of time.
Also known as active surveillance or watch-and-wait, this approach monitors the tumor closely with regular imaging tests, blood tests and/or physical exams. Watchful waiting is most often used when the neuroendocrine tumor is considered low-grade and may grow slowly, not spread or cause any problems for several months or years.
The clinical trials at Banner MD Anderson have pioneered countless medical advances over the years. Clinical trials allow eligible patients to access new treatments which have been designed by cancer experts.
You are not alone on this journey. Ask your doctor about support groups or local groups you can join to continue having an open discussion around neuroendocrine tumors.
The trusted experts at Banner MD Anderson can help you navigate neuroendocrine tumor treatment and support options for you or your loved ones.