Neuroendocrine Tumor Diagnosis

As a rare cancer, NETs are commonly misdiagnosed as another condition. About half of NETs are not properly diagnosed until later stages when the cancer has spread to other areas. Many carcinoid tumors are discovered incidentally during gastrointestinal surgery.

How are neuroendocrine tumors diagnosed?

Arriving at a definitive diagnosis may require several types of tests and the expertise of several different specialists. You may undergo some of the following:

  • Blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) and comprehensive metabolic panel
  • Urine tests to assess kidney function and 5-HIAA biomarker
  • Biochemical tests to measure certain substances and hormones
  • Imaging tests such as CT, MRI, echocardiogram, endoscopic ultrasound, bronchoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy and colonoscopy
  • NetSpot® Scan (gallium-68 dotatate) is the latest imaging innovation that uses a radiotracer agent instead of glucose for a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and can detect small lesions and early-stage NETs significantly better than other imaging.
  • Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) is often used to depict active cancer cells. First, you would receive an injection of a radiolabeled glucose solution. Active cells take up more of the glucose and appear brighter on the scan. However, because many neuroendocrine tumors grow slowly, they do not consume the glucose very quickly and may not appear distinctly bright.
  • Biopsy to remove a sample of tissue or fluid from the tumor to be tested and analyzed.


NetSpot® scan important part of breakthrough Theranostic treatments

In addition to providing exceptional images, showing whether you have neuroendocrine tumors — and where. The NetSpot scan can confirm that your cancer has certain features that make it treatable with a radiopharmaceutical drug, a new therapeutic approach called Theranostics. Roswell Park is currently building a Theranostics Center to greatly expand the number of patients we can treat with these breakthrough therapies.

Learn more about Theranostics