Symptoms of Neuroendocrine Tumors of the GI Tract

Often neuroendocrine tumors of the GI tract cause no symptoms. However, in some cases, symptoms occur when the tumor spreads (metastasizes) to other organs.

When neuroendocrine tumors of the GI tract do have symptoms, the different NETs vary in their symptoms. Here are common signs and symptoms of the various neuroendocrine tumors of the GI tract.

Carcinoid Tumors

In their early stages, carcinoid tumors often cause no symptoms. As they spread (metastasize) to the liver or other organs, they often release hormone-like substances that cause carcinoid syndrome.

Carcinoid tumors of the GI tract may cause the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain from blocked intestines
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Facial flushing
  • Melena (dark, tarry stools)
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease

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Islet Cell Tumors of the Pancreas

In many cases, islet cell tumors of the pancreas often cause no symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they are caused by the hormone the tumor is producing.

You may experience all, some or none of the signs or symptoms associated with the following tumors.

Gastrinoma

  • Diarrhea
  • Recurrent stomach ulcers (from excessive stomach acid)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Pain in your abdomen

Insulinoma

  • Hypoglycemia
    • Dizziness or light-headedness
    • Shakiness
    • Fatigue
    • Seizures
    • Fainting episodes
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat

Glucagonoma

  • Diabetes (present in most patients)
  • Hyperglycemia
    • Increased hunger
    • Increased thirst
    • Frequent urination
  • Rash on face, abdomen and legs
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sores on your tongue and at the corners of your mouth
  • Blood clots in your lungs
    • Shortness of breath
    • Coughing
    • Pain in your chest
  • Blood clots in your legs or arms
    • Swelling, redness

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Somatostatinoma

  • Hyperglycemia
    • Increased hunger
    • Increased thirst
    • Frequent urination
  • Jaundice (yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes)
  • Diarrhea
  • Gallstones
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Steatorrhea (oily, smelly, floating stools because your body cannot absorb fat correctly)
  • Type 2 diabetes

VIPoma

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Digestive problems due to achlorhydria (low stomach acid)
  • Low potassium
    • Muscle weakness, achiness and cramping
    • Frequent urination
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Confusion
    • Excessive thirst
  • Flushing in face, neck and chest
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Pain in your abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss

Non-functional Islet Cell of the Pancreas (Ppoma)

  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Jaundice (yellowing of your skin and whites of your eyes)
  • A lump in your abdomen
  • Pain in your abdomen or back

Note

Many of these symptoms resemble conditions caused by diseases other than cancer. If you are concerned about these symptoms, please see your physician.

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