What are NETs? 

Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) is the umbrella term for a group of unusual, often slow-growing cancers. The term neuroendocrine implies that these cells have received some nervous connections, (neuro- ) and the cells have the ability to secrete hormones (endocrine). 

Neuro-endocrine = messenger cells of the body

Where do NETs occur?

Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) is can start almost anywhere in the body, but most commonly found in the digestive system, lungs, pancreas and reproductive organs. These tumours develop from secretory cells found throughout the body and which are particularly concentrated in the gastrointestinal system.

Common symptoms of NETs:

Because they have the ability to secrete hormones and depending on where in the body they are, they can cause different symptoms and issues. Not all patients will have the same symptoms and this can make it hard to diagnose and treat.


Below are some symptoms experienced, (but not limited to):

  • Abdominal Pain

  • Diarrhoea

  • Flushing / menopause like symptoms

  • Bloating

  • Wheezing / chronic cough

  • Heart Burn

  • Weight changes

NET's can be disguised as or mimic symptoms associated with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or other chronic digestive problems. If in doubt, seek further advice from a experienced medical professional.

Every NET patient is different and it is important to be cared for by an experienced physician and ideally by multiple specialists for optimal care.

This booklet has been developed to provide information about neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) for patients and their families.

If there is any information in the guide that you do not understand please feel free to discuss it with a member of your medical team.

Further or more detailed information about your type of neuroendocrine cancer may also be available so please do not hesitate to ask for this as well.

We encourage you to discuss any information you find on the internet with your healthcare team.

We hope this guide will be a helpful and informative resource throughout the coming weeks, months and years.

If you would like a hardcopy sent to you in the post, please e-mail support@unicornfoundation.org.nz

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NET Patient Guide