If you have been diagnosed with one or more neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), the next step will involve finding out the extent or spread of the tumor through a process called staging. This staging information is what will help your oncologist determine the best course of treatment for you.
At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, we understand that staging can seem confusing. Therefore, we urge you to speak freely with your cancer care team if you have any questions or concerns you would like addressed.
Some neuroendocrine tumors, such as those of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and pancreas have their own staging systems based on the location and characteristics of the tumor. Other NETs use the staging system for other cancers. For example, the staging of a lung NET is the same as the staging of non-small cell lung cancer. If you have been diagnosed with a lung NET, we encourage you to visit our lung cancer staging page for more information. The information regarding staging NETs of the GI tract or pancreas can be found below.
In regards to GI tract and pancreatic NETs, the staging system most often used is the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system. This system helps your doctor answer some very important questions:
The results are combined to determine the stage of cancer for each person.
Many gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors (GI NETs) are staged differently than other types of GI cancer. These include NETs of the:
For GI NETs there are 4 stages, I through IV (1 through 4). Generally, the higher the stage number, the more the cancer has spread.
For a NET of the pancreas, there are 4 stages, I through IV (1 through 4). The stage provides a common way of describing the cancer, so doctors can work together to plan the best treatments.