Neuroendocrine Tumors Treated by Expert Cancer Doctors in Baltimore

Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy - Neuroendocrine Tumors

Dr. Sandy Kotiah, Director of The Neuroendocrine Tumor Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, leads one of the few dedicated Neuroendocrine Tumor Centers in the United States.

Dr. Kotiah works alongside additional Mercy physicians to diagnose and treat neuroendocrine tumors, also referred to as NETs and carcinoid tumors. These multidisciplinary specialists include:

  • Medical and surgical oncologists
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Endocrinologists
  • Pathologists
  • Nuclear medicine specialists
  • Interventional radiologists
  • Nutritionists
  • Clinical nurse navigator

Our doctors at The Neuroendocrine Tumor Center at Mercy are recognized experts who provide patients with the latest diagnostic techniques and therapies to treat neuroendocrine tumors. 

About the Condition

The neuroendocrine system consists of the nervous system and the endocrine system.  Both systems are made of neuroendocrine cells that are located throughout your body. Neuroendocrine cells can sometimes turn into cancer and become neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). These tumors are cancerous (malignant), range in size and differ in their rate of growth. NETs are generally slow growing and can sometimes produce excess hormones. There are also fast growing and aggressive neuroendocrine tumors. 

Neuroendocrine tumors are rare (often referred to as an orphan disease), hard to find and difficult to diagnose. It is important to seek a doctor who is knowledgeable about neuroendocrine tumors to ensure a proper and timely diagnosis.

A neuroendocrine tumor often begins in the digestive tract, in particular the pancreas, as it has more neuroendocrine cells than any other part of your body. NETs also can be present in the appendix, lungs, ovaries, rectum, small intestine and testes.

Types of Neuroendocrine Tumors

There are many specific types of neuroendocrine tumors. They include the following:

  • Carcinoid
  • Gastroenteropancreatic NET (GEP-NET)
  • Islet cell 
  • Gastrinoma, glucagonoma, insulinoma
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Small-cell lung carcinoma
NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) typically do not show signs until they have grown and spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body. Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Skin rash
  • Flushing

Your symptoms may depend on the location and type of neuroendocrine tumor (functional or nonfunctional).

  • Functional NET – releases hormones that cause your symptoms.
  • Non Functional NET – does not discharge hormones and produces symptoms like pain as the tumor develops
  • NET location – the location of the NET can contribute to the types of symptoms   

Your doctor may find neuroendocrine tumors during a routine exam or during surgery for another condition. Your doctor may order a number of tests to support the diagnosis including:

  • Blood Test
  • Urine Test
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Gallium 68 PET scan (a PET scan that uses a tracer, injected into the bloodstream, to identify tumors)
NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Possible treatment options for neueroendocrine tumors may include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Chemoembolization
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Radiotherapy
  • Targeted radionuclide therapy, including PRRT - Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy
  • Medications
  • Clinical Study

Your doctor also may recommend incorporating a healthy lifestyle plan to help with your treatment. Some healthy lifestyle changes include:

  • Diet consisting of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Regular exercise
  • Plenty of rest
  • Prevent stress