Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) can begin almost anywhere in the body. They start from cells that make and release hormones.
Many physicians never see a patient with this rare type of cancer. But at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we do. We treat hundreds of people with NETs each year. Our experts provide all standard therapies and are national leaders in NET care and research.
Many of our patients take part in clinical trials. These studies are led by world-renowned physicians from Fred Hutch. Through studies, patients like you get access to promising new therapies that may not be available elsewhere.
Care for people with NETs is often complex. The treatment that is right for you may be different than for someone else. This is true even if you have the same type and stage of cancer. To get the best care, it is important to see a team with NET expertise. Your team should review your case in detail. At Fred Hutch, our NET experts come together at our Neuroendocrine Tumor Board to review your case and design the best treatment plan for you.
From the first time you come to see us, your neuroendocrine tumor team begins getting to know you and your family. What are your questions? What are your concerns?
At your first appointment, your medical oncologist also explains your disease. We outline how we treat the type of NET you have and which tests you need to help us shape your individual care. Before you leave, we make sure you understand the next steps.
Fred Hutch physicians with knowledge and experience in all types and stages of NETs design your personalized treatment plan and provide your care.
NET treatment can vary widely from person to person. Often, we have many options to choose from
At Fred Hutch, a team of dedicated people surrounds you to give you the highest level of care and support. You are part of the care team too. Our patients are at the center of everything we do.
The safest, most effective and most widely accepted therapies for cancer become the “standard of care.” For many patients, these form the foundation of treatment. At Fred Hutch, we provide all standard therapies for NETs and know how to select and sequence them to give you the best outcome.
Our physicians and researchers are always asking how we can make NET treatments better and reduce side effects further. This is why we conduct clinical trials. Through these studies, we are able to offer you therapies not offered everywhere. A trial therapy today may become the new standard of care tomorrow.
Along with treating your cancer, a group of world-class professionals is here to support you. This team includes nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, social workers, psychologists and palliative care specialists. We integrate supportive care services to promote your well-being in every sense.
Many people with NETs first come to Fred Hutch after being diagnosed by a physician somewhere else. Often, this happens when NETs are found during an X-ray or treatment done for some other reason.
At Fred Hutch, we also see people whose physicians suspect a NET but are not sure. NETs can be difficult to diagnose. They may cause no symptoms at all. When they do cause symptoms, they can mimic many other conditions.
Diagnosing NETs almost always involves a biopsy. This shows whether you have cancer and which type. It also allows us to compare your cancer cells to normal cells. This reveals your tumor differentiation and grade. If the cancer cells appear more normal, the tumor is called well differentiated. If the cancer cells appear less normal, the tumor is called poorly differentiated.
Grade refers to how quickly the cancer cells grow. Lower-grade cancers are usually slower growing. Higher-grade cancers tend to grow faster. This helps guide your treatment plan.
Fred Hutch pathologists have special expertise with NET biopsies. They know how to analyze these biopsies and get the level of detail your medical oncologist will need. If you had a biopsy elsewhere, at Fred Hutch we check the results. Our pathologists review the pathology slides and report.
Our radiologists and nuclear medicine specialists review your scans. We do this to confirm your diagnosis and to plan treatment that precisely matches your needs. This includes figuring out where your NET started, such as in your intestine, pancreas or lung.
Another important detail is whether your NET makes and releases hormones. NETs that do this can cause symptoms. These are called functional NETs. You may have tests, like blood and urine tests, to check your hormone levels.
At Fred Hutch, we provide all the types of tests and imaging you may need.
When someone close to you is diagnosed with a NET, you might step into the role of caregiver. On a practical level, this can mean many things, from cooking meals to helping with medical decisions. It probably also means dealing with emotions and stress yourself.
In our eyes, you are a true member of a patient’s care team. We see every day that your presence and your support make a difference. We also see that what your friend or family member is going through affects you too.
Part of our mission is to help you take care of yourself. Doing so is good for your own physical, mental and emotional health. It also helps you give your best to your loved one. Our social workers, chaplains and Patient and Family Resource Center can help.
Many neuroendocrine tumors (NET) patients at Fred Hutch receive promising therapies by taking part in clinical trials. These research studies are done by physicians and scientists from Fred Hutch. They test new treatments or new ways to use current treatments.
Fred Hutch researchers are looking at two main questions: How can we make NETs treatments more effective? And how can we make treatments less toxic and easier on patients? We are also searching for ways to better tailor treatment to each person we care for.
We have clinical trials for all types and stages of NETs, from early to advanced. Our studies are testing medicines like targeted therapies and chemotherapy regimens.
Fred Hutch is a leader nationally in advancing these and other options, bringing new hope to patients.
When your care team designs your treatment plan, they offer you the choice to join clinical trials that match your situation. If you take part, you see the same physicians and nurses as you would for standard therapy.
Your care team will talk with you about whether to join a particular study and why, so you can make the decision that is best for you.