Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)

NETs are rare cancerous tumours that develop in cells from the neuroendocrine system. If you're diagnosed with a NET, we can provide you with instant access to expert clinicians and world-class hospitals

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Types of neuroendocrine tumours


Also known as medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), this a rare slow-growing cancer in the thyroid. The most common symptom is a lump in the neck.

Adrenal glands

A NET in the adrenal glands often causes too much of a particular hormone to be produced. The type of hormone that is overproduced depends on the part of the adrenal gland affected by the tumour.


NETs in the lung may also be known as a bronchial NET. Lung NETs are an uncommon form of lung cancer.


This is a very rare type of NET. Diagnosis usually happens once you have had tests for the more common types of breast cancer.

Stomach gastric

There are three different types of stomach NETs, which combined account for a very small number of stomach cancers.


The liver is usually not the primary site of the body where a NET develops. It is usually affected as a secondary site by metastasis (the spread from another organ).


NETs in the pancreas are also called endocrine tumours of the pancreas. These include insulinomas, gastrinomas, glucagonomas, VIPomas and somatostatinoma.


A rare form of neuroendocrine tumour that is usually detected by chance following removal of the appendix.


A rare type of neuroendocrine tumour that develops in the gastrointestinal tract of the small or large bowel.


A rare type of neuroendocrine tumour specifically affecting the end of the digestive system.


A rare type of neuroendocrine tumour specifically affecting the ovaries in the female reproductive system.


A rare type of neuroendocrine tumour specifically affecting the lower part of the uterus in the female reproductive system.


Other rare types of neuroendocrine tumours include merkel cell carcinoma, multiple endocrine neoplasia and unknown primary.

Need to know

Symptoms will depend on the area of the body the NET is located, but may include:

  • Skin flushes
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Diarrhoea
  • Shortness of breath and/or wheezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weightloss
  • A NET in your lung may cause chest infections and shortness of breath. You may have a cough or cough up blood.
  • A NET in your digestive system may cause pain in the abdomen that comes and goes and may include nausea and vomiting.

Please be aware these symptoms can often be related to a number of non-cancerous conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to see your GP so that a referral for investigations can be made as quickly as possible to establish a diagnosis.

Your consultant will carry out a combination of different diagnostic tests that may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Biopsy

You may also have additional blood tests that look at your hormones, and nuclear medicine scans (an octreotide scan or MIBG-scan) to help locate the tumour and plan for future treatment.

If you are diagnosed with NETs you will have immediate access to world-class cancer specialists and a specialist unit dedicated to the treatment of these rare tumours.

Your consultant will talk you through your diagnosis and treatment options in detail, helping you to make an informed decision about your care. Depending on your diagnosis, treatment options may include:

  • Surgery - we offer the latest techniques in both open and minimally invasive surgery
  • Radionuclide Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Molecular targeted therapy
  • Radiotherapy

There are a number of other treatments available to treat NETs. Your consultant will discuss the most appropriate treatment plan with you.

At HCA UK you will be looked after by a multidisciplinary team, including expert consultants, clinical nurse specialists and supportive therapists including psychologists who can help you with your emotional wellbeing.


The Wellington Hospital NET Unit

A dedicated neuroendocrine tumours (NET) treatment unit is available at The Wellington Hospital. Our multidisciplinary team is led by Professor Martyn Caplin alongside oncologist Dr Daniel Krell and has close links with the European Centre of Excellence at the Royal Free Hospital. Transferring the European Centre of Excellence standards to the private sector, our NET unit ensures patients receive an expert service, as well as access to the latest, cutting-edge treatment options.

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.