Welcome to Nancy Valenkamph Foundation’s Different Kinds of Cancer series. This is a short series where we talk about an array of cancers. The first on the list is Neuroendocrine Carcinoma, which was Nancy’s diagnosis. We hope to promote education and awareness in the fight against cancer through our blogs.
To begin, it is important to define the term “carcinoma”. A carcinoma is a kind of cancer that begins in cells that make up the skin or the tissue lining organs. Carcinomas are abnormal cells that divide without control, like other cancers. Many spread to other areas of the body; some do not.
Neuroendocrine carcinoma tumors are very rare. In fact, they account for less than one percent of all malignant disorders in the United States (upmc.com). There are an estimated 2,000 new cases in the United States every year.
Why does a tumor grow? Simply put, a tumor begins when the DNA of healthy cells becomes damaged. This causes the cells to grow uncontrollably and form a mass. A tumor can be benign or cancerous. A cancerous tumor can spread to other parts of the body while a benign tumor does not spread. Typically, a benign tumor can be removed and isn’t very harmful.
Neuroendocrine tumors are cancers that start out in specific cells called, “neuroendocrine cells.” These tumors are very rare and can occur anywhere in the body. Neuroendocrine cells are found throughout the body’s organs and they help to control many of the body’s functions. While they can be found anywhere in the body, they are mostly discovered in the lungs and bronchial system.
Most neuroendocrine tumors occur in the:
- small intestine
The rate of growth varies. Some neuroendocrine tumors create more hormones whereas some won’t release enough to be noticed. Treatment of neuroendocrine tumors heavily depends on the kind of tumor, its location, whether it produces hormones or not, how fast it grows, and whether it has spread.
For Nancy, her fast-acting tumor ate away all of the bone structure around the elbow. Even though the original tumor was discovered and removed, the cancer had already spread to her lungs, liver and back. Nancy underwent radiation and chemotherapy and also applied for many test treatments. She even visited one of the top neuroendocrine facilities in the United States and the World to get help.
Breakthroughs and new discoveries in cancer treatments are discovered all of the time. It is an exciting time to be a part of the fight for the cure! At Nancy Valenkamph Foundation, our mission is to help find a cure. To find out about our future golf outings and how you can get involved, feel free to call: 219-477-9826 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to getting to know you!