As you all know, NETs are a particularly complicated type of disease. It requires many types of therapies to get the best outcome. And since it is a slow growing, chronic disease, when people are well cared for, they can live better lives. All treatment modalities are important to consider to help treat and prevent complications of the disease.
Surgery is a particularly important modality. Full, disclosure, I’m a surgeon, and have seen the benefits of having surgery and the consequences of NOT having surgery. I use surgery as one of the tools in the toolbox to help people. It can do multiple things: remove tumors, remove hormone producing tumors, remove blockages, remove sources of bleeding, prevent future problems. All these things sound pretty good, right? Well, think about it – if we remove the tumors, that’s the best we can do! If we remove most of the tumors, but can get rid of most of the hormones that are driving you crazy, that’s good too. If the tumor is in a bad place and might cause some kind of blockage (in the bowels or the lungs) we’d like to remove them otherwise you won’t be able to eat or breathe. If the tumor causes bleeding either directly or by clogging blood vessels, it would do well to remove it. And MOST importantly, if we can do the surgery when you are strong and healthy (and not sickly from the complications of the tumors) you will do better, recover better, and be better after surgery.
It’s not SO easy. There are always risks and there’s always a price to pay, but in good EXPERIENCED neuroendocrine hands, these operations can help A LOT. Most of my regrets in the past have been when I DIDN’T do something early on. I’ve learned so much and I hope my experience and knowledge can help others live better lives.
Dr. Eric Liu
Neuroendocrine Surgeon--The Neuroendocrine Institute at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers
Co-Founder and Chief Medical Advisor Healing NET Foundation