Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan on Friday revealed that he has been suffering from ‘neuroendocrine tumour’. In a statement, he wrote, “The unexpected makes us grow, which is what the past few days have been about. Learning that I have been diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Tumour as of now has admittedly been difficult, but the love and strength of those around me and that I found within me has brought me to a place of hope. The journey of this is taking me out of the country, and I request everyone to continue sending their wishes. As for the rumours that were floated NEURO is not always about the brain and googling is the easiest way to do research. To those who waited for my words, I hope to be back with more stories to tell.” READ MORE
— Irrfan (@irrfank) March 16, 2018
What is Neuroendocrine tumour?
A tumor begins when healthy cells change and grow out of control, forming a mass. Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are neoplasms that arise from cells of the endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems. Many are benign, while some are malignant (cancerous). They most commonly occur in the intestine, where they are often called carcinoid tumors, but they are also found in the pancreas, lung and the rest of the body.
A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body if it is not found early and treated. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread. A benign tumor usually can be removed without it causing much harm.
A neuroendocrine tumor begins in the hormone-producing cells of the body’s neuroendocrine system, which is made up of cells that are a combination of hormone-producing endocrine cells and nerve cells.
Types of neuroendocrine tumors
Pheochromocytoma: Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor that begins in the chromaffin cells of the adrenal gland. These specialized cells release the hormone adrenaline during times of stress.
Symptoms: high blood pressure, anxiety attacks, fever, headaches, sweating, nausea, vomiting, clammy skin, rapid pulse, heart palpitations.
Merkel cell cancer: Merkel cell cancer is a highly aggressive, or fast-growing, rare cancer. It starts in hormone-producing cells just beneath the skin and in the hair follicles. It is usually found in the head and neck region.
Symptoms: Painless, firm, shiny lumps on the skin that can be red, pink, or blue.
Neuroendocrine carcinoma: Around 60 per cent of neuroendocrine tumors cannot be described as anything other than “neuroendocrine carcinoma”. Neuroendocrine carcinoma can start in a number of places in the body, including the lungs, brain, and gastrointestinal tract.
Symptoms: Hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, diarrhea, persistent pain in a specific area, loss of appetite or weight loss, a cough or hoarseness that does not go away, thickening or lump in any part of the body, changes in bowel or bladder habits, unexplained weight gain or loss, jaundice, unusual bleeding or discharge, persistent fever or night sweats, headaches, anxiety, gastric ulcer disease, skin rash. Some people also experience nutritional deficiencies before a diagnosis, such as niacin and protein deficiency. Others develop this symptom later.
According to Dr Sudeep Gupta, deputy director at Tata Memorial Hospital, the neuroendocrine tumour is a rare occurrence, with incidence much lower than breast cancer. “Ordinarily it can be found in multiple location in abdomen, such as in pancreas or intestine, but rarely do we find the tumour in lung or brain,” he said. He added that the neuroendocrine tumour is of two grades even in abdomen. “A low grade cancer patient can live for several years. In high grade, it requires chemotherapy, and surgical procedures, but life expectancy is still less.”
Apple founder Steve Jobs suffered from neuroendocrine cancer in pancreas which spread to other organs in his body. It is estimated that more than 12,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor each year.
(With inputs from cancer.net)