What is Neuroendocrine Tumour?

A Neuroendocrine tumour is a swelling or a mass of abnormal tissue which resembles the normal tissue in structure but which has no benefit or function and they grow at the body’s expense. The term neuro refers to nerves while endocrine is the process of secreting internally (in the body) and pertains to the endocrine glands (glands that secret their hormones into the body).

Such glands are pineal, pituitary, thyroid, e.t.c. These glands do not have ducts and secret their hormones into the blood stream for use by other body organs to perform their functions. A neuroendocrine tumour can be either a benign (innocent) tumour (which do not infect the surrounding tissues or organs) or malignant tumour (which infect the surrounding tissues or organs). A benign neuroendocrine tumour can be removed and they in most cases do not recur or grow.

A malignant neuroendocrine tumour infects the tissues or organs around it and cause metastasis (the spread of tumour cells from one part of the body to another, a process known as cancer. It therefore occurs that neuroendocrine tumour is a cancer of the endocrine glands. In neuroendocrine tumour Neouroendocrine cells are to be found all over the body in organs as skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract.

There are two classes of tumours, the carcinoid tumous and endocrine pancreatic tumours. Carcinoid tumours are those tumours that particularly infect the gastrointestinal tract. They do not grow rapidly, unlike endocrine pancreatic tumours which grow and spread very rapidly.There are many types of neuroendocrine tumours. These include but not limited to: Neuroendocrine carcinoma. These neuroendocrine tumours are to be found in the lungs, brain and in the gastrointestinal tract. Merkell cell; these infect the cells below the skin and hair follicles. They also occur on the head and neck regions. Pheochomocytoma; These are to found in the cells of the body. Such cells main duty is to produce adrenaline. This type of cancer unnecessarily increases the production of adrenaline, which results in the increase of blood pressure and heart rate.

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