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The risk factors for developing a neuroendocrine tumor vary because these types of tumors behave differently depending on where they grow in the body. A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s risk of developing cancer. However, an individual having one or more risk factors does not determine whether or not cancer will appear.

While there are several different types of neuroendocrine tumors, two of the most common are gastrointestinal (GI) carcinoid tumors (cancers that affect hormone-producing cells in the GI tract) and islet cell tumors (neuroendocrine tumors that affect the pancreas), each of which have their own unique risk factors. A risk factor common to both types of cancer, however, is a family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, which is a hereditary condition that increases the risk of developing a tumor in the pituitary gland, parathyroid gland and/or pancreas.

Other neuroendocrine tumor risk factors include:

  • Gastrointestinal conditions such as atrophic gastritis, pernicious anemia or Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
  • Smoking tobacco (for gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors especially)
  • Immune system suppression disorders, like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Researchers have also found that as a person ages, the likelihood that he or she will develop a neuroendocrine tumor increases. Islet cell tumors, for instance, are more common in people between the ages of 40 and 60.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, our researchers work tirelessly to determine how certain conditions and/or behaviors contribute to the development of neuroendocrine tumors in order to find ways to more effectively treat the cancer. Meanwhile, patients who have developed neuroendocrine cancer will find the best available care within our Gastrointestinal Oncology Program, where they will receive highly individualized treatment. Our multispecialty tumor board, consisting of surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and other cancer treatment experts, meets weekly to discuss each patient’s unique case. This collaborative approach to cancer treatment, along with our vigorous research and robust clinical trials has resulted in Moffitt being designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. We’re the only cancer center based in Florida to have this distinction.

To learn more about neuroendocrine tumor risk factors, or to discuss any other aspect of the condition, contact Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-663-3488 or by filling out our online patient registration form. No referral is required.