Raising awareness of neuroendocrine cancers around the world

NET Cancer Day

November 10

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Why are there different names for NET cancers?

This group of cancers was first identified as a specific disease in the mid 1800s, and the term carcinoid was given to them in 1907 to describe a tumor that grew much more slowly than normal cancers. However, by the 1950s, it became quite clear that these slow-growing tumors could be malignant and spread from one part of the body to another like other forms of cancer.

Nowadays, the description carcinoid tumor is being slowly replaced in medical literature by the term NETs or gastroenteropancreatic tumors (gastro – stomach, entero – intestines, and pancreatic – pancreas) or GEPs for short. However, some doctors do still use the term carcinoid tumor or just carcinoid when they refer to NETs that develop in the stomach, duodenum, small intestine, appendix, colon or rectum.

The terminology can be confusing. For example, a carcinoid may be described as a NET or a GEP-NET; an insulinoma may also be described as a pancreatic NET, a PNET, a PET or a NET.