The treatment you have for a stomach neuroendocrine tumour (NET) depends on a number of things. This includes the type of NET and whether it has spread. Doctors call this the stage of the cancer.
NETs grow at different rates, but they often grow very slowly. Some might not grow at all for months or years. So, you might not need treatment straight away. Your doctor might ask you to have regular tests to keep an eye on it.
Which treatment do I need?
A team of doctors and other professionals discuss the best treatment and care for you. They are called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).
The treatment you have depends on:
- where the stomach NET started (the primary tumour)
- whether it has spread
- how the cells look under the microscope and how quickly they are dividing (the grade)
- the symptoms you have
- your general health
You are likely to have a clinical nurse specialist (CNS). They go to the MDT meetings. They can help answer your questions and support you. They are often your main point of contact throughout your treatment.
Treatment for stomach NETs
The main treatment for stomach NETs is surgery.
Many people with a type 1 stomach NET don’t have surgery straight away. This is because the tumours usually:
- are small
- grow very slowly
- are unlikely to spread to another part of the body
You might not need surgery at all and instead have regular checks. Or your doctor may be able to remove the tumour during an endoscopy. An endoscopy looks at the inside of the food pipe (oesophagus) and stomach. Your doctor uses a long flexible tube that has a light and camera at the end.
You might have treatment with drugs called somatostatin analogues, such as octreotide and lanreotide. They are proteins that can slow down the production of the hormone gastrin.
Type 2 stomach NETs are more likely to spread to other parts of the body after a while. Your doctor might remove it during an endoscopy if your tumour is small.
For tumours bigger than 1cm, or if you have more than 5 tumours, you have an operation to remove the NET. Your surgeon also removes a border of healthy tissue around the tumour. This is to reduce the chance of it coming back.
You might also have treatment with drugs called somatostatin analogues, such as octreotide and lanreotide. They are proteins that can slow down the production of the hormone gastrin.
If you have a primary tumour in the pancreas or duodenum which is causing the stomach NET this might also be removed.
Type 3 stomach NETs might already have spread when they are diagnosed. Even if the tumour is small, you may need surgery to remove part or all of your stomach, together with the nearby lymph nodes.
We have more information on this type of surgery in the stomach cancer section of the website. Remember to click back to the stomach NET section, to get more information about your cancer type.
You might also have chemotherapy treatment as well as surgery.
Treatment of stomach NETs that have spread
There are a number of different treatment options if you have a stomach NET that has spread. The best treatment for you depends on where in your body the NET has spread to.