Treatments for neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)

If you have a neuroendocrine tumour (NET), your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for a NET, your healthcare team will consider:

  • where the cancer started
  • if the cancer has spread and where it has spread
  • the grade
  • the stage
  • whether the tumour makes and releases hormones (is functional) or not (is non-functional)
  • other health conditions you have
  • your personal preferences (what you want)

Expert review and references

  • Cancer Care Ontario . Evidence-Based Series 12-13: Radionuclide Therapy for Neuroendocrine Malignancies (Summary) . 2011 :
  • Carcinoid Neuroendocrine Tumour Society (CNETS) Canada . Neuroendocrine Tumours: Reference Guide for Patients and Families . 2013 :
  • Carcinoid Neuroendocrine Tumour Society (CNETS) Canada. Approved NET Treatments, Indications and Funding in Canada. 2015.
  • Gridelli C, Rossi A, Airoma G et al . Treatment of pulmonary neuroendocrine tumours: state of the art and future developments . Cancer Treatment Reviews . 2013 :
  • Gupta S . Intra-arterial liver-directed therapies for neuroendocrine hepatic metastases. Seminars in Interventional Radiology. 2013:
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Neuroendocrine Tumors (Version 1.2015). 2015.
  • Norton JA, Kunz PL . Carcinoid tumors and the carcinoid syndrome. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 86:1218-1226.
  • Singh S, Asa SL, Dey C, et al . Diagnosis and management of gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors: an evidence-based Canadian consensus . Cancer Treatment Reviews . 2016 : 47:32–45 .
  • Yao JC, Evans DB . Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 85:1205-1217.

Surgery for neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)

Surgery is usually used to treat neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). Most people with NETs benefit from surgery when it can be done. The type of surgery you have depends mainly on where the cancer is located.

Drug therapy for neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)

Biological therapy is commonly used to treat neuroendocrine cancer. It is also called biotherapy or biological response modifiers (BRMs).

Radiation therapy for neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It is not usually used to treat neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). If used, it is usually when the cancer has spread (metastasized).

Liver directed therapy for neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)

If neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) spread, they often spread to the liver (called liver metastases). Liver directed therapy directly targets the cancer in the liver and is often used to treat NETs that have spread to the liver. Liver directed therapy is mainly used when surgery can't be done.

Follow-up after treatment for neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)

Neuroendocrine cancer behaves differently in each person, and a standard follow-up schedule would not work for everyone. People with neuroendocrine cancer should talk to their doctor about a follow-up plan that suits their individual situation. Follow-up care is often shared among the cancer specialists, such as the surgeon, oncologist and endocrinologist, and your family doctor.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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