How Are Neuroendocrine Tumors Diagnosed?
If a physician suspects that a patient might have a neuroendocrine tumor, he or she can use a variety of tests to confirm the diagnosis, such as:
- A physical examination – Neuroendocrine tumors can produce symptoms that vary from one person to another depending on the type of tumor present and where it’s located within the body. A physician can test for these symptoms during a physical exam.
- Blood and urine tests – These tests can be used to detect the presence of certain hormones produced by neuroendocrine tumors. For example, because neuroendocrine tumors can secrete serotonin, a patient’s urine may be tested for abnormal levels of hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), which is a breakdown product of serotonin.
- Imaging tests – Physicians often use imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, ultrasounds and X-rays to detect the presence of neuroendocrine tumors. Certain imaging tests can also be used to determine whether a tumor has metastasized (spread to another area of the body).
- Endoscopies and biopsies – During an endoscopy, a physician inserts a long, thin tube with a light and camera attached to it into the patient’s body to check for abnormalities. If the physician finds an abnormality, he or she may perform a biopsy, which involves collecting a small tissue sample and sending it to a laboratory for testing by a pathologist.
Neuroendocrine tumor diagnosis at Moffitt
If you’re concerned that you might have a neuroendocrine tumor, you can turn to the specialists at Moffitt Cancer Center for diagnosis and treatment. The skilled providers in our Gastrointestinal Oncology Program have extensive experience diagnosing neuroendocrine tumors, and you can count on them to provide you with the caring, individualized treatment you deserve.