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Symptoms of neuroendocrine tumors

Different types of neuroendocrine tumors (NET) cause different symptoms, depending on the location of the tumor, and whether the NET is functional or nonfunctional. Functioning NETs are defined based on the presence of clinical symptoms due to excess hormone secretion by the tumor. Nonfunctional NETs do not secrete hormones. They may produce symptoms caused by the tumor"s growth.

Common symptoms of NETs include:

  • Flushing (redness, warmth) in the face or neck without sweating
  • Diarrhea, including at nighttime
  • Shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat/palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Abdominal pain, cramping, feeling of fullness
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Wheezing, coughing
  • Swelling in the feet and ankles
  • Skin lesions, discolored patches of skin, thin skin
  • High blood glucose levels (frequent urination, increased thirst, increased hunger)
  • Low blood glucose levels (shakiness, dizziness, sweating, fainting)

NETs often don’t cause symptoms early in the disease process. When symptoms are present, they may be similar to those caused by more common conditions. As a result, NETs are sometimes misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, with IBS, abdominal discomfort is usually relieved by going to the bathroom.

Because most NET patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage, it’s important to let your doctor know if you notice new or persisting symptoms or changes in your body.

Next topic: What are the types of neuroendocrine tumors?

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