One of the key milestones in my awareness campaigns occurred when I featured as a guest blogger for one of the biggest cancer ‘support’ organisations in the world – Macmillan.
The aim of the blog ‘Sorry I’m not in service’ was actually to highlight the consequences of cancer and its treatment which is a new Macmillan Campaign; and to a certain extent to highlight the conflict that can exist between work and cancer (another key Macmillan support area).
However, it was also a fantastic opportunity for me to grab the interest of the general population with the word ‘Neuroendocrine’. The response was amazing and on twitter it was one of Macmillan’s most retweeted posts over that period. The Macmillan Facebook post was also very popular and still rising with over 500 likes and over 40 shares so far.
There are some great comments on the post and the one which stuck out most is now the title of this blog! I’ve always thought the ‘anatomy’ factor was a strong awareness message for Neuroendocrine Cancer and I outlined this in a blog I wrote last year entitled ‘The Anatomy of Neuroendocrine Cancer‘. There are not many cancers which have the anatomical reach of Neuroendocrine Cancer – the ‘suckers’ can indeed get everywhere!
Although there are common areas for Neuroendocrine Cancer to pop up, there are also many rare locations. I was therefore both astonished and delighted when the Macmillan Facebook post brought together two people from UK diagnosed with a NET of the nasal cavity.
Why is the potential distribution so wide? Neuroendocrine cancer is nearly always formed in the diffuse neuroendocrine system, which is made up of neuroendocrine cells found in the respiratory and digestive tracts. The respiratory tract includes the bronchial tubes and lungs. The digestive tract starts at the mouth and ends at the rectum. Neuroendocrine cells are also found in the endocrine glands, such as the adrenal glands, pancreas, thyroid and pituitary. These cells are also found in the ovaries and the testes. However, these ‘little suckers’ have a propensity to spread (metastasise) and can end up in obscure sites throughout the body. When you carry out a bit of light research in reputable areas plus taking into account their metastatic tendencies, you end up with a list like this:
Stomach (gastric NETs)
Large Intestine (Colon)
Mesentery (keeps the small intestine in place against the abdominal wall)
Peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity)
Retroperitoneum (behind the Peritoneum)
Skin (Merkel cell)
Bones in general
Sacrum – the large, triangular bone at the base of the spine
Lymph Nodes – mainly in the area of the Mesentery, Peritoneum, Retroperitoneum, Chest Wall; but also in distant locations such as axillary (armpit) and supraclavicular (collar bone area)
Did I miss any? Feel free to add!
Thanks for listening