Actor Irrfan Khan diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Tumour: All you need to know about the disease

Learning that I have been diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Tumour as of now has admittedly been difficult, but the love and strength of those around me and that I found within me has brought me to a place of hope: Irrfan Khan

Actor Irrfan Khan diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Tumour: All you need to know about the disease

New Delhi: Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan on Friday revealed that he has been diagnosed with a disease called Neuroendocrine Tumour on Twitter.

In a statement, he wrote, "The unexpected makes us grow, which is what the past few days have been about. Learning that I have been diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Tumour as of now has admittedly been difficult, but the love and strength of those around me and that I found within me has brought me to a place of hope. The journey of this is taking me out of the country, and I request everyone to continue sending their wishes." 

A few days ago, the actor had shared a cryptic Twitter post saying he is suffering from a 'rare' disease and that he will post an update about his situation in the coming days.

What is Neuroendocrine Tumour?

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are neoplasms that arise from cells of the endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems. Many are benign, while some are malignant.

They most commonly occur in the intestine, where they are often called carcinoid tumors, but may grow slowly or aggressively and spread to other parts of the body, like the pancreas and the lungs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classification scheme places neuroendocrine tumors into three main categories, which emphasize the tumor grade rather than the anatomical origin:

  • well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumours, further subdivided into tumors with benign and those with uncertain behavior
  • well-differentiated (low grade) neuroendocrine carcinomas with low-grade malignant behavior
  • poorly differentiated (high grade) neuroendocrine carcinomas, which are the large cell neuroendocrine and small cell carcinomas.

How many people are at risk?

Neuroendocrine Tumour is a rare form of cancer and overall, it is estimated that more than 12,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor each year, while fewer than 1 million cases are seen each year in India.

What are the risk factors?

The following factors can raise a person's risk of developing a neuroendocrine tumor:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Family history
  • Immune system suppression
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV)
  • Arsenic exposure
  • Sun exposure

What are the symptoms/signs of Neuroendocrine Tumour?

Many people do not develop symptoms and the tumour is detected incidentally. When symptoms occur, they can vary based on the location of the tumour.

In rare cases, skin flushing or fluctuating blood sugar levels may occur.

Sometimes the cause of a symptom may be another medical condition that is not cancer.

Neuroendocrine Tumor: Diagnosis

In order to choose a diagnostic test, doctors may consider the following factors:

  • The type of tumor suspected
  • Your signs and symptoms
  • Your age and medical condition
  • The results of earlier medical tests

In addition to a physical examination, the following tests may be used to diagnose a neuroendocrine tumor:

  • Blood/urine tests
  • X-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Biopsy
  • Molecular testing of the tumor
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET-CT scan.

Treatments for Neuroendocrine Tumour

Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including:

  • The type of neuroendocrine tumor
  • If it is cancerous and the stage
  • Possible side effects
  • The patient’s preferences and overall health

The most common treatment options for a neuroendocrine tumor are listed below:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Other medications

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