Neuroendocrine tumor causes remain unclear. However, scientists have made important strides in learning how impaired DNA can cause healthy neuroendocrine cells to become cancerous. DNA essentially tells a cell how to function, including when to grow, divide and die. Damaged DNA can provide flawed instructions that cause unhealthy cells to build up and form a tumor, which can potentially become malignant.
A tumor suppressor gene is one of two specific types of gene that, when damaged, sometimes causes a neuroendocrine tumor to develop. This gene sets the pace for cell division and causes cells to die at the appropriate times. The other type of gene that can be involved with tumor formation is called an oncogene, which – if activated – can override the cellular coding that otherwise tells cells to die, in turn causing cancer to develop.
In some cases, neuroendocrine tumors form when a damaged MEN1 tumor suppressor gene or, less commonly, a damaged NF1 tumor suppressor gene is inherited from a parent at birth. More frequently, however, neuroendocrine tumors result from mutations in tumor suppressor genes or oncogenes that take place during a patient’s lifetime. Scientists have yet to pinpoint exactly what causes these mutations to occur.
While neuroendocrine tumor causes are still being studied, scientists have established that these tumors are often:
- Very small
- Slow growing
Because this is a rare form of cancer, it is advisable for a patient to seek treatment from a high-volume cancer center, where there are surgeons and other experts who have extensive experience in treating neuroendocrine tumors, specifically. Moffitt Cancer Center offers a level of expertise that far exceeds that of other providers. Our state-of-the-art technology and wide-ranging experience consistently lead to better patient outcomes, quality of life and satisfaction.