Myth 1: All Neuroendocrine Tumours are benign
Not true. By any scientific definition, the word ‘tumour’ means ‘an abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumours may be benign (not cancerous), or malignant (cancerous)’. Furthermore, The World Health Organisation (WHO) 2010 classification is based on the concept that all NETs have malignant potential, and has therefore abandoned the division into benign and malignant NETs and tumours of uncertain malignant potential. Read more here.
Myth 2: Neuroendocrine Tumours is a terminal condition
Not true. By any definition of the word terminal in a medical diagnostic context, most NET patients have a good prognostic outlook, even those with metastatic incurable disease. Read more here.
Myth 3: Every NET patient has ‘carcinoid syndrome’
Not true. Firstly, many NET cancers are non-functional; and secondly, carcinoid syndrome is only one of a number of “NET Syndromes” associated with the various types of NET. An example from ENETS indicates that Small Intestinal NETs (SiNETs) have a 30% prevalence of ‘Carcinoid Syndrome’ in those with metastatic disease. However, the issue is further confused by those who use the word ‘Carcinoid‘ to incorrectly refer to all Neuroendocrine Tumours. Read more here.
Myth 4: Neuroendocrine Tumours are rare
Not true. As a collective grouping of cancers, this is no longer accurate. Read more here.
Myth 5: Steve Jobs had Pancreatic Cancer
Not true. Steve Jobs had a Neuroendocrine Tumour of the Pancreas. Ditto for a few other famous names. Read more here.
Myth 6: I’m not getting chemotherapy, I must be doing OK?
Not true. For some cancers or some sub-types of cancers, chemotherapy is not particularly effective, e.g. some types of Neuroendocrine Cancer (NETs). In general, well differentiated NETs do not show a high degree of sensitivity to chemotherapy. However, many of the treatments for NET Cancer are somewhat harsh, have long-term consequences, and have no visible effects. NET patients are often said to “look well” but that doesn’t mean they are not struggling behind the scenes or under the surface. Read more here.
Myth 7: Neuroendocrine Tumours is a ‘good cancer’
Not true. Simply, no cancer is good. Some are statistically worse than others in prognostic terms, that’s true. However, no one cancer is better to get than any other – they’re all bad. Read more here.
Myth 8: Every NET Patient was misdiagnosed for years
Not true. Many NET Patients are correctly diagnosed early on in their investigation and in a reasonable time. This myth is perpetuated because of two things: firstly, on forums, the ratio of long-term misdiagnosis is high creating a false perception; and secondly, the method of capturing patient surveys is not extensive enough – again creating a false perception. Read more here.
Myth 9: Somatostatin Analogues are a type of Chemotherapy
Not true. Somatostatin Analogues (e.g. Octreotide and Lanreotide) are not chemotherapy, they are hormone inhibiting drugs (or hormone therapy). For tbe record, Everolimus (Afinitor) and Sunitinib (Sutent) are not chemotherapy either. Read more here.
Myth 10: I’ve been diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Tumours – my life is over
Not true. Many patients live a very long time and lead fairly normal lives with the right treatment and support. It’s difficult but I try not to use ‘I can’t’ too much. Read more here.
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