Neuroendocrine or Carcinoid Tumors

People with neuroendocrine tumors will find exceptional care and the latest treatment options at Virginia Mason. Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) — sometimes called carcinoids — are abnormal growths that start in the endocrine cells found throughout the body. NETs have been difficult to treat in the past, but Virginia Mason physicians have been diligent in pursuing clinical studies that offer patients more options.

NETs are a slow-growing, uncommon cancer that does not respond well to standard chemotherapy or radiation. The tumors cause a range of symptoms including:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling in the feet and ankles
  • Skin lesions
  • Shortness of breath

Since these can be symptoms of many conditions, it is important that any concerns be evaluated by a physician.

New Treatment at Virginia Mason

In 2018, Virginia Mason became the first health-care institution in the Pacific Northwest to provide a new treatment for NETs. Called peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT), this treatment involves an injection of a small protein peptide into the patient’s bloodstream. The peptide finds the tumors and binds to them, while also protecting the surrounding tissues. PRRT has been shown to significantly stop the growth of tumors for an average of two and a half years. More than 3,000 patients with advanced carcinoid tumors living in Washington state may benefit from the new treatment, which can be repeated as needed.

Virginia Mason Care Team

Patients with NETs are reviewed by a multidisciplinary tumor board including national leaders in surgery, radiation oncology, nuclear medicine, medical and radiation oncology and pathology. Imaging with a Gallium-68 Dotatate PET/CT is a key part of decision-making. Clinical trials, tumor staging, and genetic testing are thoroughly considered when making treatment recommendations.

If you would like to know more or to make an appointment, please call us at (206) 223-6193.