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Symptoms and management options for GEP-NETs
Symptoms and management options for GEP-NETs

Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, commonly known as GEP-NETs, are cancerous tumors that develop in the pancreas or other digestive areas, such as the small intestine, rectum, stomach, appendix, or colon. These tumors generally grow in the hormone-producing neuroendocrine cells. Like most other cancers, GEP-NETs are hard to detect in their initial stages. If undetected for a long time, the tumors can turn malignant and spread to other parts of a person’s body.

Symptoms
Healthcare and oncology experts identify this health condition by the following symptoms:

Diarrhea
People with GEP-NETs frequently have secretory diarrhea, meaning they defecate large-volume stools. The frequent passage of stools causes bleeding, fever, dramatic muscle loss, a lack of sleep, and severe pain in the lower abdominal area. Abdominal pain is usually caused due to the blockages brought about in a person’s intestines.

Headaches
While headaches are not the most common symptom, many patients experience them. As specified earlier, GEP-NETs tend to affect one’s hormonal glands. In many cases, this causes unregulated hormone production, which constricts blood vessels in and around the head and other areas. This constriction, in turn, causes headaches.

Vomiting
The tumors affect the digestive system’s ability to function normally. Hence, patients commonly experience nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Fatigue
Besides the digestive system, most cancers affect blood circulation. Since blood is the primary oxygen carrier to all body parts, patients feel tired more often with improper circulation. One may feel exhausted even after performing simple tasks, such as walking a few steps or climbing some stairs.

Treatment options
Doctors recommend treatments to stop the spread of cancerous cells to other body parts or inhibit the hormone production symptoms. Surgery may also be suggested to remove the tumor. Some useful treatment alternatives are:

Cryoablation
In this procedure, doctors insert a thin needle called a cryoprobe into the skin to destroy the cancer cells by freezing them. It tends to stop rapid and aggressive cell growth in patients.

Radiofrequency ablation
This treatment is like cryoablation, but instead of cold temperature, radiofrequency ablation uses high-voltage radio waves to kill cancer cells.

Tumor debulking
In this treatment, doctors surgically remove the parts of a tumor that produce excessive amounts of hormones.

Foods to eat
Healthy food habits can help prevent the development of neuroendocrine tumors or reduce the severity of the symptoms. Healthcare experts recommend patients eat small meals every two hours or so for nourishment instead of a few large meals.

Choosing the right foods is also essential. Doctors recommend high-protein foods like meat, soya, eggs, beans, legumes, and tofu. Full-fat milk and smoothies rich in fats are also suitable for GEP-NET patients. In addition, one should consider antioxidant-rich foods like broccoli, spinach, and kale to address the internal inflammation caused by cancer.

It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before making drastic changes to the daily meals or eating schedules.

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