Diagnostic Testing for Neuroendocrine Tumors

Diagnostic tests for neuroendocrine cancer can look to see if you have a neuroendocrine tumor or uncover information about the type of tumor. There are many different types of diagnostic tests for neuroendocrine cancer. 

  • Laboratory tests examine blood, urine, or tumor tissue.
  • Imaging tests and take pictures of your body’s anatomy (such as x-ray, CT or ultrasound) or help doctors to see how your body is functioning (PET,  SPECT, or MRI). 
  • Genetic tests look for changes in DNA that may be inherited (passed down in families) or sporadically acquired.

Diagnostic tests for neuroendocrine cancer help doctors identify the approach most likely to best treat your neuroendocrine tumor.

What to ask before having diagnostic tests

For many patients with neuroendocrine cancer, diagnostic testing causes worry. Waiting for diagnostic test results can cause anxiety. One way to tackle the uncertainty that comes with NET diagnostic testing is to learn as much as you can. Here are some questions to ask your doctor to learn as much as you can before deciding to undergo any diagnostic testing. 

  • How will I benefit from getting this test?
  • What will the test results tell me? What will they not tell me?
  • How long will it take to get results?
  • How will I find out about the results? 
  • What is involved in having the test?
  • What are the risks of this test?
  • What if the test doesn’t prove anything (is inconclusive)?
  • Depending on the results of this test, will there be other tests?
  • Are there (safer, easier, faster) alternatives to this test?
  • What happens if I don’t get the test?  
  • How will the test results help to figure out the next step?

 Learn more about how to talk to your doctor and make the most of doctor visits

Neuroendocrine tumors
are often misdiagnosed or diagnosed late

1 in 2

U.S patients reported being diagnosed with other conditions when they had neuroendocrine cancer 14

1 in 3

 U.S. patients had NET symptoms for five years or more before being diagnosed.13

1 in 5

U.S. patients thought their symptoms could be cancer.13

The latest in NET News

Finding May Help Predict Pancreatic NET Recurrence

NETRF-funded researchers identified a cancer cell type that is associated with non-functional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (pNET) recurrence. Alpha-like pNET cell expression of the protein ARX can guide prognosis.

Patients and caregivers discuss lessons learned on their journey.  

Patients and physicians discuss the importance of finding a specialist.

Search for NET specialists

Find NET doctors, treatment programs, and support groups near you

Get connected.
Follow us on social media.

13National Cancer Institute. Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma treatment (PDQ®)-patient version. 2017. https://www.cancer.gov/types/pheochromocytoma/patient/pheochromocytoma-treatment-pdq. Accessed October 23, 2018. 

14Wolin EM, Leyden J, Goldstein G, et al. Patient-reported experience of diagnosis, management, and burden of neuroendocrine tumors: results from a large patient survey in the U.S. Pancreas.2017; 16(5):639-647.