A neuroendocrine tumor can cause a wide array of symptoms depending on the type of tumor and its location. These tumors affect the hormone-producing cells of the neuroendocrine system found throughout the body, causing those cells to send abnormally high amounts of hormones into the system. Symptoms vary depending on the types of cells that are affected and the hormones that are released.
Gastrointestinal carcinoids develop in the lining of the GI tract and affect a specialized cell that produces hormones for regulating digestive enzymes and peristalsis (the contraction of muscles that moves food along the digestive tract). These tumors tend to not produce symptoms in the cancer’s early stages. However, if the tumor reaches the liver or other organs and tissues in the body, it may produce symptoms such as:
- Redness or a feeling of warmth in the neck or face
- Shortness of breath
- Quickened heartbeat
- Swelling in the feet or ankles
- Pain or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
Tumors that develop in the endocrine component of the pancreas are called islet cell tumors. Symptoms can vary depending on whether the tumor is cancerous or benign. Cancerous tumors can cause stomach ulcers, low blood sugar, a skin rash, a sore tongue or other symptoms depending on the excess hormones that are released. Benign tumors can cause abdominal pain, fatigue, fainting and unexplained weight gain.
In Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program, our neuroendocrine tumor team will assess a patient’s symptoms carefully and conduct a series of tests. If a diagnosis has been made, our multispecialty team will devise an individualized treatment plan and monitor the patient’s progress closely. We also offer innovative new treatments through our robust clinical trials program.
If you’re interested in learning more about neuroendocrine tumor symptoms, treatment strategies or anything else related to the condition, contact Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-663-3488, or by filling out our online patient registration form. No referral is required.