Managing Symptoms of Neuroendocrine Tumors

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A person with neuroendocrine tumors can have symptoms for a range of reasons.

  • A neuroendocrine tumor may release hormones into the bloodstream
  • Cancer treatment may have side effects
  • Tumor size or site can lead to issues
  • Associated syndromes may emerge
  • Diabetes is connected to some pancreatic NETs
  • Gallbladder problems are common
  • Lactose intolerance sometimes develops

Tell your doctor about any symptoms or side effects. To convey the frequency and seriousness of any side effects, keep a log of your symptoms and share it with your care team. Your doctor may be able to recommend modifications or treatments to alleviate symptoms.

Ways to manage diarrhea caused by neuroendocrine tumors

There are a few steps you can take on your own to try to reduce the severity and frequency of diarrhea.

  •  Eat small, frequent meals.  
  • Don’t drink while you are eating
  • Spread fluid out during the day, taking regular sips of water
  • Avoid soft drinks or soda
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol
  • Eat complex carbohydrates over simple sugars.
  • Reduce the intake of fats
  • Avoid spicy foods with capsaicin, such as chili peppers
  • Increase soluble fiber often found in fruits
  • Decrease insoluble fiber from beans, bran, nuts, seeds, whole wheat, fruit/vegetable skins.

Ways to manage cancer-related fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most common issues people living with NETs face.2 Their exhaustion can be beyond physical. It can include emotional exhaustion. And it is not an easy problem to tackle. But there are a few things you can do to help manage cancer-related fatigue.

  • Schedule activity when you have high energy
  • Schedule rest when you have low energy

    Woman sipping ice water on cooch

  • Avoid overscheduling; pace yourself
  • Establish a sleep routine for going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Sleep 7-8 hours a day
  • Prepare for sleep with a standardized relaxing routine like taking a bath or reading in a chair
  • Use your bed for sleep and sex only. Don’t read, watch TV, or use electronics in bed
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark
  • Limit daytime naps to less than 30 minutes
  • Increase activity or exercise
  • Consider the role of anxiety, stress, or depression may have on your energy level.

Talk to your care team about cancer-related fatigue. There may be tests or treatments that can help resolve the issue.

2Singh S, Granberg D, Wolin E, et al. Patient-reported burden of a neuroendocrine tumor (NET) diagnosis: results from the first global survey of patients with NETs. J Glob Oncol. 2016;2(1):43-53.