Neuroendocrine Tumors

What are neuroendocrine tumors?

Neuroendocrine tumors, also known as NETs, are growths that develop from specialized, hormone-producing neuroendocrine tissue distributed throughout the body.

These tumors can form in the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, pancreas, and other tissues. NETs are sometimes called carcinoid tumors, especially when they grow out of the gastrointestinal tract or lungs. Pancreatic NETs are sometimes called “islet cell” tumors and include insulinomas, glucagonomas, gastrinomas, VIPomas, and non-functioning NETs.

Some NETs secrete hormones while others do not. Those that secrete hormones are referred to as "functioning" and may cause specific symptoms related to excessive production of that hormone. Most NETs are slow-growing, but some are more aggressive, growing rapidly and spreading to other parts of the body.

How we care for NETs

Children with neuroendocrine tumors are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through our Endocrine-Oncology Program. Our integrated pediatric oncology service offers — in one specialized program — the combined expertise of a leading cancer center and a premier children’s hospital. We build a team to treat your child consisting of oncologists, endocrinologists, genetic counselors, and surgeons. Advanced cancers may also be treated through our Solid Tumor Center.

What is the latest research for NETs?

Children who are treated through our Endocrine-Oncology Program benefit from the work of our basic and clinical researchers, who are striving to understand the scientific causes of endocrine cancers. Their work can result in the introduction of new treatment options. We are a world leader in translational research, bringing laboratory advances to the bedside and into doctors’ offices as quickly as possible.

Clinical trials

Research studies evaluating new treatment approaches are a major offering at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s. For many children with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options.

It’s possible that your child will be eligible to participate in one of our clinical trials. In addition to launching our own clinical trials, we also offer trials available through collaborative groups such as the Children's Oncology Group (COG). If your child has a progressive or recurrent tumor, he or she may be eligible for a number of experimental therapies available through these groups or from one of our independent clinical investigators.