Staging for neuroendocrine tumors is not the red flag it is for other cancers. Unlike other cancers, patients can live a long time even with an advanced or Stage IV neuroendocrine tumor. The treatment for a Stage IV neuroendocrine tumor may be very different than the treatment of another cancer at the same stage. For example, doctors may surgically remove a Stage IV neuroendocrine tumor, while surgery might not help a patient with a different cancer in such a late stage.
Neuroendocrine tumors can be classified as low grade or high grade.
A low grade, or well-differentiated tumor, can be treated with surgery and ablation therapy. The aim is to eliminate as many of the tumors as possible. These techniques can be followed by chemotherapy, however, low grade tumors aren't as responsive to chemotherapy as high grade tumors.
High grade neuroendocrine carcinomas are more aggressive and are treated with chemotherapy.