Supporting the

Neuroendocrine Cancer Community

Understanding Neuroendocrine Carcinomas: Key Facts and Awareness

May 25, 2023

We are committed to increasing awareness of neuroendocrine cancers and educating our community about these rare and often misunderstood malignancies. It is essential to recognise that Neuroendocrine Cancers, also known as Neuroendocrine Neoplasms, encompass two distinct classifications: Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) and Neuroendocrine Carcinomas (NECs). Understanding the differentiation between these two groups of diverse cancers is crucial. Today, we aim to highlight neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) by highlighting key information and important facts.
Neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) arise from neuroendocrine cells found throughout the body, including the lungs, pancreas, intestines, and other organs. However, NECs develop differently from Neuroendocrine Tumours due to changes that occur at the early stage of cell development. NECs display a more consistent yet aggressive behaviour, characterised by rapid growth and are not typically associated with abnormalities in hormone release. Extensive knowledge of these unique characteristics is imperative to improve patient outcomes and provide appropriate care.
Despite being relatively rare, neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs), excluding Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC), can significantly impact the lives of those affected. Recognising the signs and symptoms is crucial for early detection and timely intervention. Common symptoms mimic those observed in more prevalent cancers, such as unexplained pain and/or weight loss, the presence of unusual lumps or swelling, and fatigue. Some symptoms may also be specific to the affected site, such as a persistent cough, blood in urine, or altered bowel habits. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms persistently, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional promptly for further evaluation and diagnosis.
Diagnosing neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) often requires a combination of tests, including blood and urine samples, CT and MRI scans, tissue sampling (e.g., biopsy), and/or endoscopy. Specialised tests, such as specific Nuclear Medicine scans and additional blood tests which check hormone levels and/or tumour markers, may also need to be done. Accurate diagnosis is essential for determining the most appropriate treatment plan tailored to the individual’s condition and needs.
At Neuroendocrine Cancer UK, we support individuals and families affected by all neuroendocrine cancers, offering resources, information, and a caring community. Together, we can raise awareness, improve early detection rates, and ensure access to optimal care for everyone impacted by this condition. Join us in spreading awareness and understanding about neuroendocrine cancers. Let us work towards a world where neuroendocrine cancers are well-recognized and better supported, making a difference in the lives of those affected by these rare and complex malignancies.
To learn more about neuroendocrine carcinomas and how you can get involved, visit our webpage on Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness: