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Neuroendocrine…..the little suckers get everywhere!

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doctorOne 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:

Small Intestine




Stomach (gastric NETs)

Large Intestine (Colon)


Adrenal Glands



Bile Ducts







Seminal Vesicle















Retro-orbital (eye)

Mesentery (keeps the small intestine in place against the abdominal wall)

Peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity)

Retroperitoneum (behind the Peritoneum)

Nasal Cavity

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!

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Thanks for listening


My Diagnosis and Treatment History



  1. Jane Bohen says:

    My husband was initially diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to his liver, spine and lymph nodes. Consequently he was given 8 weeks to live. A subsequent biopsy of his lung tumour revealed it was a NET and he went from 8 weeks life expectancy to 8 years in 8 seconds! Two years on and monthly Lanreotide injections hold the disease in exactly the same position that it was in when it was first discovered. However, a proposed operation on his spine (to try and reduce pain caused by damage to the vertebrae caused by the cancer) was cancelled at the last minute by the anaesthetist who said the tumour on his lung, which measures 7.5 X 8 cm and is inoperable, is pushing into his oesophagus and therefore it was too dangerous. This was very upsetting, as it seems most people’s chances of survival are extended when the cancer is removed surgically. Has anyone else had any similar experience?

    Liked by 1 person

    • ronnyallan says:

      Jane, I’m so sorry to hear of your news. Each case can be very different and without knowing all the ins and outs, it’s difficult to comment. NETS are normally slow growing but it’s also true to say that cyto reductive or debulking surgery can potentially offer better outlook but even so, that needs to be weighed up with other factors. This is it a forum site so will not get many people answering. I can understand why you find your situation upsetting. Were you been treated at a NET specialist centre?


  2. Susan says:

    Dear Ronny, keep up the great work. You are helping so many of us understand, accept and live. Greater awareness,as always, can lead to earlier diagnosis. I don’t understand how we get NETs ( as compared to example a heavy smoker getting lung cancer) but the sooner someone gets diagnosed , the better quality and longer life one can have. Thank you for making a difference in the world. Hugs to you and yours


  3. Nicole Weber says:

    I was diagnosed with carcinoid primary of the gallbladder. Disease free for 13 years and counting!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ronnyallan says:

    this is a link to an abstract – although this one was a primary tumour http://www.researchgate.net/publication/51501956_Primary_Atypical_Carcinoid_of_the_Parietal_Pleura_Expressing_KIT

    Have you heard of a group called “Loveable Lungoids” ? You are more likey to find someone similar there I suspect. I’ll keep my ear to the ground though.


  5. Jojo Beswick says:

    Hi Ronny, I had a typical in my right lung removed by thoracotomy, but later found to have metastatic disease (positive margins) in 2 of 4 lymph nodes and the parietal pleura (chest wall). I’ve yet to find anyone with the same. My onc is happy to just watch & wait. If you know of anyone in a similar situation I’d love to know!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lisa says:

    has anyone heard of any kind of link between insulinoma (pancreas NET) and breast cancer? I had both, during a PET CT to detect the insulinoma (3), invasive lobular mammary carcinoma was found. The docs I’ve seen thus far say there is no correlation yet I’m not so sure…insulinoma is so rare! Maybe it just hasn’t been documented? BTW, I’m so happy to have discovered your blog! Feel quite alone here in beautiful yet remote southern Germany! Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sara says:

    My paraganglomia was discovered in the right atrium of my heart. It’s removal destroyed my tricuspid valve. It’s amazing where these things can pop up!


  8. Cara says:

    My hubby was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine carcinoid in his skull wrapped around his carotid artery. It grew out into his ear canal and that is how it was discovered. I haven’t heard of that location in anyone else. Have you?

    Liked by 2 people

    • ronnyallan says:

      Wow Cara, I knew someone would add that! Was it a paraganglioma?


    • ronnyallan says:

      Hi Cara – I’m interested in what his official diagnosis was – i..e Carcinoid of the ????? or something else. It’s possible the ear was classed as local spread rather than the actual tumour location. I did read this article http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3578133 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4230142/

      There seems to be a strog connection between carcinoid, ears and paraganglioma (a rare NET)


    • cathy says:

      About 3 years ago I hada carcnoid rectum tumor.It was removed
      My dr.just found a mass wrapped around my carotid in my brain left side.Waiting for tests to come back.Im really shocked and scared.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ronnyallan says:

        Cathy, so sorry to hear you are having new problems. I totally understand why you might be scared and also the shock of another tumour after your experience with a carcinoid 3 years ago. I hope the tests provide the best news possible. From my research, I can see cartoid tumours are extremely slow growing (slower than carcinoid). Hopefully the tests will confirm whether this is carcinoid, non-carcinoid; or that it might be described as concomitant to carcinoid (associated with or following). Let me know how you get on? Good luck and keep in touch. Ronny


    • cathy says:

      Cara this is what Im facing now.Except not in my ear but ear hurts.Still going through tests.I thought I had trigeminal nueralgia….never in a million years did I think this.

      Liked by 1 person

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