Neuroendocrine Tumors & Frequent Bowel Movements

Over 100,000 patients in the United States are living with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs).1 These tumors form in neuroendocrine cells that interact with the nervous system or in glands that produce hormones. NETs are most commonly found in the abdomen, more specifically in the gastrointestinal tract. They can also be found in other parts of the body, including the lung.2 NETs are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, with IBS, abdominal discomfort usually goes away after going to the bathroom.3

Patients living with neuroendocrine tumors can fall into two classifications: carcinoid or non-carcinoid syndrome. Non-carcinoid tumors often cause only vague symptoms, often leading to an initial misdiagnosis of other gastrointestinal disorders. Once a NET metastasizes (spreads to other sites in the body), they can release a large concentration of hormones into the bloodstream, causing the presence of symptoms associated with carcinoid syndrome.

NET patients often experience an increase in diarrhea, which can have a negative impact on their quality of life. Even after being placed on a standard anti-diarrheal regimen, it is not uncommon for patients to continue with frequent bowel movements.

 

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1 Dasari A, Shen C, Halperin D, et al. Trends in the Incidence, Prevalence, and Survival Outcomes in Patients With Neuroendocrine Tumors in the United States. JAMA Oncol. 2017;3(10):1335-1342

2 https://www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/neuroendocrine-tumors

3 https://www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/neuroendocrine-tumors/symptoms