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A neuroendocrine tumor survivor walking with her daughter

Neuroendocrine tumors range from very slow-growing to highly aggressive. Hence, the survival rate can vary significantly from patient to patient based on the location, type and stage of the cancer. Any general statistics relating to prognosis must be viewed within a proper context and are best understood with the help of a treating physician.

Things to consider about neuroendocrine tumor survival rates

While the survival rate for each type of neuroendocrine tumor based on disease stage and grade can provide a helpful benchmark for physicians, it is of limited value to individual patients for several reasons. Consider that:

  • The data is based on the collective experiences of thousands of people, and the actual outcome for a specific individual can be markedly different from the general average.
  • It is impossible to predict the prognosis of any patient with a neuroendocrine tumor because every person responds differently to treatment.
  • Survival statistics are captured in five-year intervals; therefore, they do not account for the most recent medical advances or breakthroughs in treatment approaches.

Can neuroendocrine tumors be benign?

Neuroendocrine tumors that have invaded through layers of tissue, or spread to local lymph nodes and/or other organs are clearly malignant. Neuroendocrine tumors that are high-grade or poorly differentiated are also malignant regardless of whether they have spread or not. However, in patients with a localized, low-grade tumor, the treatment plan can vary quite widely. Some of these tumors are at such low risk of spread that they can be considered "benign" after removal, although this term is not used pathologically. Examples are very small neuroendocrine tumors of the appendix, or very small superficial low-grade neuroendocrine tumors of the rectum. These tumors are often found incidentally and have a negligible risk of spread after removal. On the other hand, neuroendocrine tumors originating in parts of the small intestine (e.g. ileum) are almost always malignant even though they may be quite slow-growing.

Are neuroendocrine tumors curable?

Localized neuroendocrine tumors that have not spread to lymph nodes or other organs in the body can often be cured.  In most cases, the cure involves surgical resection, however small superficial tumors of the gastrointestinal tract can sometimes be removed endoscopically (through a non-surgical procedure performed by a gastroenterologist).

Many neuroendocrine tumors have spread at the time of diagnosis or recurred after surgery. Most metastatic tumors (that have spread) are not curable but can be treatable with multiple forms of therapy. Prognosis depends on many factors including the tumor appearance under a microscope (differentiation and grade), site of origin, and extent of disease and response to treatment.

Neuroendocrine tumor treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center

At Moffitt Cancer Center, each patient with a neuroendocrine tumor is evaluated thoroughly by specialists who have the expertise necessary to design tailored treatment plans for every type of neuroendocrine cancer. Additionally, we have a surgical team that performs complex procedures with an unparalleled level of skill and precision.

Moffitt’s extensive research initiatives on neuroendocrine tumor treatment have received international recognition, and through our exciting clinical trial program, our patients have opportunities to be among the first to benefit from treatment advances, such as minimally invasive approaches and interventional radiology. As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt provides each patient the best possible treatment options to improve his or her quality of life.

If you’d like to learn more about the neuroendocrine tumor survival rate, the experts at Moffitt can explain how it relates to your unique situation. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. You are a top priority for a cancer center that delivers nationally ranked care in new and transformative ways, and you can expect to connect with a cancer expert as soon as possible.