Endocrine tumour is a complex cancer disease which is named by the endocrine gland in which they begin. Endocrine system is a network of glands which produce hormones and send them through the blood The different glands in the system include pituitary gland, thyroid gland, pancreas and parathyroid glands. Cancer can form in any of these glands. Pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer are the most common. Each endocrine cancer patient needs individualized treatment plan as the cancer behaves differently in the bodies separately. Experts first need to understand and identify cancer at the biologic and genetic levels by unlocking the molecular code of a patient’s disease and point out as to what makes each cancer grow and then discover remedy to stops it.
Some tumours which grow in the endocrine are non-cancerous which means they will not spread to other parts like the cancerous tumours. But both non-cancerous and cancerous tumours of endocrine tumours are treated in the same manner. As for example most pituitary tumours are non-cancerous i.e. benign but they are treated in the same manner as cancerous tumours.
Types of endocrine cancer tumour are:
- Pancreatic cancer.
- Parathyroid gland tumours.
- Pituitary gland tumours.
- Thyroid cancer
- Adrenal gland tumours.
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia 1 (MEN1)
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia 2 (MEN2)
In the cases when the endocrine glands or its hormones do not function properly there are a number of signs and symptoms. Symptoms of endocrine cancer depend on the place where the cancer is growing in the body. A thyroid tumour may cause swelling in the neck, in the area of the thyroid. Other symptoms which include the effects of hormonal changes, which vary considerably from tumour to tumour.
Symptoms of endocrine cancer include:
- Weight Gain - this is related to the thyroid gland which secretes the thyroid hormones which regulates the metabolic rate of the body. Also due to Ovarian disorders and the cushing’s syndrome – a condition which arises because of an excess of glucorticoids.
- Weight Loss – because of adrenal insufficiency, hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus
- Physical Characteristics like change in facial structure and short stature
- Sexual and Reproductive Disorders – malfunction of almost all endocrine gland or its hormone can have impact on fertility.
Treatment of endocrine cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and its possible side effects. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy are the different treatments undertaken to cure endocrine cancer to the best extent possible.
To help patients of endocrine cancer with the side effects that they need to face after treatment, palliative or supportive care is given.
Metastatic endocrine cancerous tumours are those tumours which have spread to other parts of the body. In such cases when treatment is not further possible doctors declare it as termination or advanced stage.