Neuroendocrine or Carcinoid Tumors Diagnosis & Treatment

People with neuroendocrine tumors will find exceptional care and the latest treatment options at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs)—sometimes called carcinoids—are abnormal growths that start in the endocrine cells found throughout the body. NETs have been difficult to treat in the past, but our team has been diligent in pursuing clinical studies that offer more options.

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) diagnosis

NETs are rare, but every NET is different. Here, we use Gallium-68 Dotatate (a radio tracer that attaches to tumor receptors) scans and other diagnostic procedures to fully understand your condition. Other tests depend on where your tumor is located. They may include:

  • Physical exam to better understand your symptoms or look for signs that a tumor is producing excess hormones
  • Blood or urine tests to look for excess hormones
  • Other imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT or MRI, to visualize your tumor
  • Tissue sample (biopsy) to test for cancer cells, either via surgery or by inserting a long, thin tube into your lungs (bronchoscopy), esophagus (endoscopy) or rectum (colonoscopy)

NETs Treatment

Treatment plans are customized for each individual’s personal situation and may include:

  • Surgery
  • Liver-directed therapy, which includes chemoembolization, Y-90 radioembolization, radiofrequency ablation and liver radiation
  • Somatostatin analogues, which are medications to slow down the production of hormones
  • Small molecule therapy
  • Chemotherapy 
  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT)
  • Clinical trial therapies 

Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT)

In 2018, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health became the first health care institution in the Pacific Northwest to provide a new treatment for NETs called PRRT. This treatment involves an injection of a small protein peptide into the bloodstream, where the peptide finds tumors and binds to them, while sparing the surrounding tissue. PRRT has been shown to significantly stop the growth of tumors for an average of 2.5 years. More than 3,000 patients with advanced carcinoid tumors living in Washington state may benefit from the new treatment, which can be repeated as needed.

PRRT treatment usually consists of four treatments at 8- to 10-week intervals. In some cases, the treatment might need to be delayed or terminated.

NETs second opinions

If you’ve been diagnosed with NETs, learn more about second opinions and how they may help you find all your available treatment options.

NETs research and clinical trials

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is a leader in cancer research. Learn more about research and clinical trial options.

NETs wellness and support

Cancer treatment includes more than just treating physical symptoms. Learn more about our comprehensive wellness and support services.

NETs specialists

To learn more about NETs or to make an appointment, find a specialist near you.