Supporting the

Neuroendocrine Cancer Community

Understanding Neuroendocrine Cancer of the Breast

Sep 19, 2023

Neuroendocrine Cancer of the Breast (NECB) is a rare and distinct form of breast cancer, accounting for less than 5% of all breast cancer cases. This unique subtype can be challenging to diagnose and treat, often requiring specialised medical expertise and precise histopathology examination.

NECB can manifest in two primary ways: as a primary cancer originating within the breast tissue or as a secondary site, where neuroendocrine cancer has spread from another part of the body to the breast.

To accurately diagnose NECB, an expert histopathology review is vital. The World Health Organization (2012) classifies NECB into three subtypes:

1. Well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumour (NET)
2. Poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas or small-cell carcinomas (NEC)
3. Invasive breast carcinomas with neuroendocrine differentiation – a subtype distinct from both NET and NEC.

Due to its rarity, there are currently no standardised treatment guidelines for NECB. However, there is a consensus among medical professionals that care should be individualised, with specialised opinions sought to tailor treatment plans to each patient’s unique needs.

While the exact causes of neuroendocrine cancer remain unclear, leading a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, is encouraged.

While most Neuroendocrine Cancers do not have a familial link, certain rare genetic conditions can increase the risk of developing these cancers. It is essential to inform your medical team about any family history of cancer or known genetic conditions, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, and CHEK2 mutations. Genetic testing may be recommended to assess your risk.

Neuroendocrine Cancer of the Breast, being exceptionally rare, may not always be associated with the genetic alterations mentioned above. Nevertheless, suppose you have a strong family history of Breast, Ovarian, or Neuroendocrine Cancer or possess a known genetic alteration. In that case, this information can guide your care and ensure appropriate follow-up measures.

For a more in-depth understanding of Neuroendocrine Cancer of the Breast, including diagnosis, treatment options, and resources, please visit our dedicated webpage. CLICK HERE.