Neuroendocrine cancer starts in neuroendocrine cells, which are specialized cells scattered throughout the body. They can produce hormones in response to signals from the nervous system. Neuroendocrine cancer can start anywhere in the body. It is most common in the lungs but can occur in the pancreas, colon and almost any other organ. Neuroendocrine cancer often spreads quickly and is difficult to treat. It is a type of neuroendocrine neoplasm that is also known as neuroendocrine carcinoma, poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma or small cell carcinoma.

This type of cancer is more common in people in their 50s, 60s and 70s, and tobacco is a risk factor. Neuroendocrine cancer usually doesn’t occur in children. It is different from neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), which can be cancerous or noncancerous. 

Neuroendocrine Cancer at UK Markey Cancer Center

Neuroendocrine cancer requires a dedicated team of specialists with expertise and experience treating this type of cancer. At the UK Markey Cancer Center, we’re focused on getting you diagnosed fast so you can begin treatment right away. 

Because neuroendocrine cancer can start anywhere in the body, you might think you need a specialist who treats cancers of that specific area of the body, such as a lung specialist. A neuroendocrine specialist will have more experience treating neuroendocrine cancer. These cancers tend to act similarly no matter where they’re located. The treatment options are also similar for all neuroendocrine cancers regardless of where they start.

Our team specializes in neuroendocrine cancers that occur throughout the body. A breast cancer specialist may treat a handful of neuroendocrine cancers of the breast every year. At Markey, our neuroendocrine specialists treat only neuroendocrine cancers — all day, every day.

Our dedicated neuroendocrine cancer clinic also offers innovative clinical trials. These research trials give you access to the latest treatments before they’re widely available. 

Each patient is cared for by a team of specialists who meet regularly to discuss individual patient cases and treatment plans. This multidisciplinary team will work with you and your doctor to coordinate a care plan designed to offer the best outcomes.

Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for over 30 years, and we are proud to be the only cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. Since 2017, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.

Your symptoms will vary based on where the cancer is located.

General symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain 
  • Unexpected weight loss 

Neuroendocrine lung cancer symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

If neuroendocrine cancer is caught early, some people will be cancer free after treatment. However, this type of cancer usually isn’t caught until it has spread to other parts of the body. Studies show the five-year survival rate for neuroendocrine cancer is under 7 percent. 

You can lower your risk of cancer by taking steps to build a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:

  • Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
  • Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal and oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.

There is no clear cause for neuroendocrine cancer, which means there isn’t any known way to prevent it. Smoking is linked to neuroendocrine cancer of the lung. 

  • For your first visit, you will be directed to the Multidisciplinary Clinic on the first floor of the Whitney-Hendrickson Building.  
  • You can register at the front desk or registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
  • Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
  • Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
  • To meet our patients’ needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.  

Clinical trials are often an important part of treatment for neuroendocrine cancer. At Markey, we’re researching ways to treat this cancer with new drugs and viruses designed to kill cancer. Let your doctor know if you’re interested in participating in clinical trials. 

Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. 

At UK Markey Cancer Center, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat cancer – one patient at a time. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.

Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating neuroendocrine cancer below.

Markey Cancer Center is NCI-designated

The UK Markey Cancer Center was first designated by the National Cancer Institute in 2013 – a distinction that recognizes our extraordinary ability to provide world-class care for our patients. We are the only NCI-designated cancer center in Kentucky and one of only 71 in the nation.

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