Management of Neuroendocrine Tumors of Unknown Origin

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Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) of unknown origin account for more than 10% of all NETs. Most of these tumors are poorly differentiated and, thus, very aggressive. Establishing the location of the primary tumor can be challenging. Workup of these NETs of unknown origin includes a thorough family history, immunohistochemistry, imaging, and OctreoScan. If the location of the primary malignancy is not determined, treatment is often initiated based on the grade and level of differentiation of the tumor, with well- and moderately differentiated tumors treated as carcinoid tumors, whereas poorly differentiated tumors are treated similarly to small cell tumors. Therapy is chosen based on symptoms and with the goal of debulking tumor when feasible and safe.

Correspondence: Mark Agulnik, MD, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 676 North St. Clair Street, Suite 850, Chicago, IL 60611. E-mail:m-agulnik@northwestern.edu

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