Causes of Neuroendocrine Tumors of the GI Tract

The precise cause of neuroendocrine tumors of the gastrointestinal tract is not known. While most cases of neuroendocrine tumors are sporadic, both carcinoid tumors of the GI tract and islet cell tumors of the pancreas are sometimes associated with a hereditary condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1).

MEN1 is a condition that increases the risk of developing tumors in specific endocrine (hormone-producing) tissues of the body. Individuals with MEN1 typically develop:

  • Pituitary gland tumors
  • Parathyroid gland tumors
  • Tumors of the islet cells of the pancreas

They can also develop non-endocrine tumors, including:

  • Tumors of the blood vessels and fibrous tissue (angiofibromas)
  • Flesh-colored skin tumors (collagenomas)
  • Fatty tumors (lipomas)
  • Tumors of the nervous system (meningiomas and ependymomas)
  • Smooth muscle tumors (leiomyomas)

Find out more information on MEN 1 from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

If you or your physician are concerned that you or a member of your family may have a hereditary condition that may affect your chances of developing NETs, a referral to the Scott & White Genetics Clinic for genetic counseling and possible genetic testing to determine whether you have a genetic predisposition to the disease may be requested.

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