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 and Delivery of High Quality Cancer Care in Essex"
NHS Essex Cancer Network

Neuroendocrine Tumours


Neuroendocrine tumours is the umbrella term for a group of unusual tumours that develop from neuroendocrine cells.

Neuroendocrine cells are specialised cells throughout the body that release hormones (chemicals) into the blood when they are stimulated by nerves.

Neuroendocrine tumours may be malignant (cancerous) or benign (not cancerous) and are often slow-growing.

The cells most commonly affected by neuroendocrine tumours are found in the lung and digestive system, but these tumours can be found in many sites of the body, including the pancreas, ovaries and testes.

It is not yet fully understood what causes neuroendocrine tumours, but most are not inherited. However, it is still important to explore family history as there are some cases where the tumour may be inherited, such as in multiple endocrine neoplasia.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of neuroendocrine cancer can vary depending on where it is. Early symptoms may include tiredness or digestive complaints, or there may be no symptoms at all, which may make diagnosis difficult.

One type of neuroendocrine cancer is called carcinoid. Very often, the symptoms of carcinoid tumours are similar to other more common conditions. For example, a neuroendocrine tumour in the digestive system may cause diarrhoea, constipation and tummy pains, mimicking irritable bowel syndrome.

Because neuroendocrine tumours affect hormone-producing cells, they can cause abnormally large amounts of hormones to be released into the blood. Sometimes, the hormones they produce cause noticeable symptoms like flushing, cramps, asthma-like wheezing, heart problems and skin changes.

How common is it?

Around five people in every 100,000 are affected by neuroendocrine cancer in the UK, which is 3,000 new cases each year. Neuroendocrine tumours can affect people of all ages, both male and female.


The outlook for neuroendocrine cancer depends on the type of cancer, how fast it is growing and how advanced it is when you are diagnosed. It should be a very individualised approach for each newly diagnosed patient.

If the cancer has been caught at an early stage and has not spread to other parts of your body, the tumour may be cured with surgery.

Unfortunately, many patients are diagnosed later on, when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. However, with treatment, the disease and its symptoms can often be controlled for many years.

Further information on neuroendocrine tumours

Information Prescription Service

To access the Information Prescription Service and the national cancer information pathway for neuroendocrine-carcinoid tumours please click on the link below. Then click on 'Specialist information from our charity partners'


Macmillan Cancer Support Website


Cancer Research UK Website




Further Information

Visit or phone a local cancer information centre

There are several cancer information and support centres in Essex Cancer Network where anyone affected by cancer can be sure of a warm welcome and high quality, accurate, evidence-based information:

Basildon Hospital Macmillan Info and Support Centre, Outpatients Dept, Basildon Hospital, staffed Monday 2pm - Friday 12.30pm,tel: 0845 155 3111 extension 4908

Macmillan Info and Support Centre,Essex County Hospital, Outpatients Dept, Monday - Friday office hours, tel: 01206 747474

Information Resource Service, St Luke's House, Corringham,Thurrock, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01375 648170

Lantern Suite, Farleigh Hospice,Chelmsford, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01245 457418

Hospice Outreach Project Information Bus, Farleigh Hospice, covers the Chelmsford area. Contact Farleigh Hospice as above

For more information, please contact the service direct.


Visit your local library in Essex Cancer Network

Essex, Southend and Thurrock library services have worked in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and the Essex Cancer Network to establish collections of quality assured information books and pamphlets about cancer. These can be accessed at any library: just ask. Additionally some staff at libraries have been trained to help patients use the Information Prescription Service.

Contact Macmillan Cancer Support Helplines

If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just someone to talk to, call free, Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm (interpretation service available) tel: 0808 808 0000

For financial queries tel: 0808 808 2232


Remember: Stay safe online when looking for support!

Internet chat rooms and message forums can be valuable sources of support and comfort, enabling you to meet others in the same position. However, there is potential for abuse - please read these guidelines before you set off to explore...

Click here to download the draft guidelines


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