Digestive Diseases - Gastroenterology

What is NET?

A neuroendocrine tumor (NET) is realatively rare. NETs can affect your health. These tumors secrete chemicals, which can cause intense flushing, diarrhea, uncontrolled high blood pressure, behavioral changes, severe stomach ulcers or skin rash, and either diabetes or very low levels of blood sugar. Many of these tumors do not produce excess chemicals, but they can cause symptoms by impinging on normal tissue. 

Cancerous or Not

Some NETs are cancerous. Others are not. Many doctors incorrectly believe that carcinoid tumors are all benign, slow growing, and do not metastasize.

Cancerous NETs are carcinoid tumors. Carcinoid tumors may be aggressive and threaten surrounding tissues or grow in other parts of the body (metastasize). Carcinoids can be life threatening. However, if the tumor does not spread to other parts of the body or squeeze out nearby organs, it is non-cancerous (benign). 

Symptoms of Carcinoids and NETs

It’s important to seek an accurate diagnosis by an experienced specialist, like the gastroenterologists at Mount Sinai. We can help you avoid years of misdiagnosis of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease that are actually cases of NETs or carcinoid tumors. It has been noted that it can take up to five years of symptoms before a proper diagnosis is made.

The following are the most commonly reported symptoms of carcinoid and NETs.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Flushing
  • Heartburn
  • Heart palpitations
  • Skin rash 
  • Weight changes
  • Wheezing, weakness

NET Statistics

While considered rare, the following statistics reflect the need for NET expertise:

  • At least 125,000 people are living with carcinoid and NETs in the United States.
  • More than 12,000 new cases of carcinoids or NETs are diagnosed each year.
  • Over 90 percent of carcinoid and NETs are incorrectly diagnosed and incorrectly treated.

At Mount Sinai, our collaborative team approach to your diagnosis and treatment help ensure that you receive a timely and accurate diagnosis and the proper treatment.