Neuroendocrine and Carcinoid Tumor Pathology

  • Charles LeVea, MD, PhD, Director of Surgical Pathology

Why the Roswell Park Doctor You Never Meet May Be the Most Important Person on Your Care Team

Patients with neuroendocrine tumors interact with many doctors during the course of their treatment, but rarely do they meet the specialist who plays a critical role in the outcome: the pathologist who diagnoses their cancer by analyzing samples of blood, tissue and body fluid. Precise diagnosis is what drives patient decisions and therapy. If the pathology is wrong, everything that follows will likely be incorrect as well.

This is especially true with neuroendocrine tumors. It can be difficult to tell whether a tumor is a neuroendocrine tumor or some other kind of cancer, and the treatments for the two different conditions are very different.

It takes years of training and a specific skill set to become an expert pathologist. After medical school, doctors complete a minimum of four years in a pathology training program and generally pursue additional training in a subspecialty.

How to Read Your Pathology Report

Cancer treatments are becoming more and more targeted, so an accurate and comprehensive analysis by a pathologist is critical in determining the best approach. Learn how to read your pathology report.

Second Look, World of Difference

A second opinion is helpful in many kinds of cancer, and is especially important with neuroendocrine tumors. Neuroendocrine tumors are rare. They resemble other cancers, and a careful identification of the tumor cells is needed in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

You can get an expert second opinion at Roswell Park. You don’t have to receive treatment at Roswell Park in order to get a second opinion. You may continue to see your current doctor, and we are happy to discuss and share information.

When Should You Seek a Second Opinion?

It’s always a good idea, but especially important if:

  • Your physician or pathologist has not provided you with a full, clear explanation of your pathology report, in a language you understand.
  • Your physician tells you that you don’t need a second opinion. A good doctor will suggest that you get another opinion if there are questions about your treatment or diagnosis. If your physician is offended, find a new doctor.
  • Your physician wants you to have surgery tomorrow. Almost nothing in the world of cancer care requires that kind of immediacy, except patients with acute leukemia; cases in which a tumor is compressing a vital structure, such as the heart or large blood vessels; or certain other rare conditions.;

If you’re still not sure whether to ask for a second opinion, ask yourself:

  • Am I confident in the diagnosis or treatment options I’ve been given?
  • Am I comfortable with my treating physician?
  • Has my physician clearly explained all treatment options — not just the ones he or she prefers?
  • Are there clinical research studies offering new treatments for my cancer?
  • Was my cancer diagnosed at an office or community hospital setting or in a comprehensive cancer center?
  • Does my insurance plan require a second opinion? If not, what type of coverage does it provide for second opinions?

To arrange for a second opinion at Roswell Park, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or fill out the online Become a Patient Form.