In addition to learning more about lung, pancreatic and stomach cancer this month, November is also a great time to learn more about carcinoid tumors and other neuroendocrine tumors. If you don't know much about these tumors, Carcinoid Tumor Awareness Month and Neuroendocrine Tumor Awareness Day can be a great opportunity.
Neuroendocrine Tumor Awareness Day Is Nov. 10
A neuroendocrine tumor (NET) grows in your body's neuroendocrine system, which is a network of nerve cells and hormone-producing endocrine cells. These tumors can either be benign or cancerous. There are several types of NETs, but the most common places for them to begin are the gastrointestinal tract and the lungs where they are known as carcinoid tumors. On Neuroendocrine Tumor Awareness Day, neuroendocrine organizations such as the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation work to help raise awareness about the types of NETs as well as treatments.
Raise Awareness For Carcinoid Tumors All Month Long
Since carcinoid tumors are the most common type of NET, the entire month of November is dedicated to raising awareness. Approximately 12,000 new cases of carcinoid cancer will be diagnosed in 2015. Roughly 8,000 of these cases will be cancers of the GI tract, and the remaining 4,000 being in the lung. Since carcinoid tumors grow in the neuroendocrine system, they are different from other forms of cancer in that form in the GI tract or lung tissue.
Carcinoid tumors are typically very slow growing, meaning that symptoms often do not appear for many years. Symptoms are often only noticeable when the hormones produced by the tumor are filtered into the blood through the liver.
Look out for these symptoms of carcinoid tumors:
- Flushing or a feeling of warmth and redness in the face
- Diarrhea or abdominal pain
- Skin rashes
- Developing heart disease
- Pellagra, which can cause scaly sores, diarrhea, and mental disturbances
- Indication of blood in the stool
- Coughing or wheezing
Since they grow slowly over time, carcinoid tumors can also cause a medical condition known as carcinoid syndrome. Carcinoid syndrome is less common for carcinoid tumors in the lungs. Look out for these symptoms:
- Facial flushing
- Shortness of breath or asthma-like symptoms
- Heart murmur or fast heartbeat
- Unexplained weight gain
- Secondary diabetes
- High blood pressure or large fluctuations in blood pressure
- Increased facial and body hair
- Neurosis and psychosis
Risk Factors For Carcinoid Tumors
Unfortunately, none of the known risk factors for carcinoid tumors are avoidable. Unlike many other types of cancer, tobacco use and other common cancer risk factors don't appear to play a role. Here are the known risk factors:
- A family history of MEN1 gene mutations.
- Being male. More men than women are diagnosed with carcinoid tumors.
- Being African-American. Carcinoid tumors are more common in African-Americans, with African-American men being at a higher risk than women.
- Being middle-aged. GI carcinoid tumors are diagnosed around age 55-65 on average and the average age of diagnosis for carcinoid tumors of the lungs is 45-55.
- Having medical conditions that cause damage to the stomach or reduce stomach acid production.
- Having pernicious anemia, a disorder of the red blood cells, can also increase the risk.
Help Spread Cancer Awareness This November
With carcinoid cancer and NETs being relatively rare diseases, not many people are aware of them or their symptoms. This November, you can make a difference just by spreading the word about carcinoid tumors or wearing an awareness ribbon. The ribbon design for Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Month is zebra striped, which is sure to start some conversations! That's the perfect time to spread the word to others.
You can spread awareness year round with an awareness ribbon for each type of cancer. Check out our ribbon guide to see what awareness campaign is coming up next!
Donate A Car To Benefit Local Children
This November, you can give back to your community by making a car donation to Wheels For Wishes, benefiting Make-A-Wish. The proceeds from auctioning or recycling your vehicle will be given to your local chapter of Make-A-Wish to help them grant more wishes in the coming year. Carcinoid tumors and other NETs rarely occur in children, but your donation will help Make-A-Wish reach kids facing other life threatening medical conditions including other types of cancer.
Donating a car is easy. Just give us a call at 1-877-431-9474 or fill out an online donation form. We take care of all the details so you don't have to worry about a thing!