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Last Updated: 08/26/21

Neuroendocrine Tumors SPORE

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), often called carcinoid tumors, occur where the endocrine system and the nervous system work together — most frequently the small intestine, lung and pancreas. Cells of these slow growing, but relentless, tumors secrete higher-than-normal amounts of hormones into the bloodstream and cause the nervous system to function abnormally. The incidence of NETs is low relative to some other cancers: 12,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021. However, for unknown reasons, NETs are increasing in incidence by more than 5% per year and this increase impacts both adults and children. There is no known cure for metastatic NETs. The rarity of NETs in any given organ helps to explain the lack of expertise in diagnosis, therapy, and translational research for these malignancies.

To address these challenges, the University of Iowa NETs SPORE is focusing on (1) the critical need for more sensitive and quantitative imaging of NETs; (2) understanding the role of tumor suppression in NETs; (3) genetic studies to identify the basis for disease in small bowel NETs; and (4) the critical need for new therapeutic options for both low- and high-grade NETs. The overall goal is to improve the rate of early diagnosis, develop more effective therapy, and ultimately enable prevention of this disease through innovative translational research.