Neuroendocrine cells are found in every organ in the body, In the digestive tract, their function is best known in the pancreas where they make hormones such as insulin and glucagon, among a host of others. However, neuroendocrine cells also can be found along the entire gastrointestinal tract. Neuroendocrine tumors that develop in the stomach, small intestine, colon, and rectum are known as carcinoid tumors. These tumors can be indolent and localized or quite aggressive and can metastasize to the liver and elsewhere in the body. At New York Presbyterian the goal is to try to identify the nature of the tumor and tailor the treatment to what is best for each patient.
Neuroendocrine Cancer Experts
The physicians in the neuroendocrine programs at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center are leaders in providing innovative treatment options for neuroendocrine tumors. Depending on the type of tumor you have, your team may include endocrinologists, endocrine surgeons, colon and rectal surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, and others specialists. The team meets weekly to create customized treatment plans each patient.
Though relatively rare, neuroendocrine tumors can have far-reaching effects on patients and their families. These tumors may not behave like other tumors. Therefore, our specialists use the latest imaging technology to spot the tumors to determine if they have spread to other organs. Our pathologists can identify markers in the tumor cells to better classify the rate of growth, which helps to determine what treatment regimen is best for you.
Depending on the type, size, and location of the tumor, we have some surgical and non-surgical options available.
- Surgery. Surgery is an effective treatment option to remove both indolent and aggressive neuroendocrine tumors and is typically the initial step in treatment. When possible, we have minimally invasive surgical options, which allow faster healing and leave fewer scars. Though we always attempt to remove the whole tumor, in cases in which we can only reduce the size of the tumor, we follow up with chemotherapy or radiation.
- Immunotherapy. Immunotherapies boost the power of the immune system to find and kill cancer cells. NewYork-Presbyterian has one of the strongest immunotherapy programs in the world, featuring pioneers in this field and clinical trials of novel immunotherapy approaches. Our oncology nurses oversee the administration of immunotherapies in our comfortable and modern infusion centers.
- Radiation therapy. When appropriate we use radiation to treat gastrointestinal neuroendocrine carcinoma and islet cell tumors. For neuroendocrine tumors, radiation treatment can take different forms, including the use of radioisotopes, which is currently commonly used in thyroid cancer treatment. NewYork-Presbyterian's radiation treatment centers are state-of-the-art facilities featuring the latest highly focused radiation technologies.
- Targeted therapies. We can target specific genes, proteins, or tissues in tumors that contribute to cancer growth. Our physicians are highly trained in using identifying the right medication depending on the type of endocrine tumor you have.
- Chemotherapy. People with gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors, gastrointestinal neuroendocrine carcinoma, may require chemotherapy to shrink tumors that have spread to other areas of the body.