Managing side effects of NETs
Here we look at the different side effects of neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) and treatment, and ways to manage these.
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Side effects of treatment
All treatments can have side effects. The type of side effects that you may have will depend on the type of treatment and where in your body the cancer is. Some people have very few side effects and others have more. Your specialist team will discuss all possible side effects, both short and long-term (including those that have a late effect and may not start immediately), with you before treatment begins.
One issue that is important to discuss before you undergo treatment is fertility, particularly if you want to have children in the future.
For more on this, see Fertility and cancer.
Common side effects
|Surgery||Bleeding, damage to nearby tissue and organs (including nerves), drug reactions, pain, infection after surgery, blood clots, weak muscles (atrophy), lymphoedema|
|SSAs||Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, bloating, bowel issues such as constipation or diarrhoea, abdominal pain, gallstones, fatigue|
|PRRT||Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, short- term hair loss, kidney damage and blood disorders, loss of fertility|
|Chemotherapy||Fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, bowel issues such as constipation or diarrhoea, hair loss, mouth sores, skin and nail problems, increased chance of infections, loss of fertility|
|Radiation therapy||Fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, bowel issues such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and excess wind, bladder issues, hair loss, dry mouth, skin problems, lymphoedema, loss of fertility|
Complementary therapies and integrative oncology
Complementary therapies are designed to be used alongside conventional medical treatments (such as surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy) and can increase your sense of control, decrease stress and anxiety, and improve your mood.
Some Australian cancer centres have developed “integrative oncology” services where evidence-based complementary therapies are combined with conventional treatments to create patient-centred cancer care that aims to improve both wellbeing and clinical outcomes.
Let your doctor know about any therapies you are using or thinking about trying, as some may not be safe or evidence-based.
For more on this, see our general section on Complementary therapies.
Clinically proven benefits
|acupuncture||reduces chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting; improves quality of life|
|aromatherapy||improves sleep and quality of life|
|art therapy, music therapy||reduce anxiety and stress; manage fatigue; aid expression of feelings|
|counselling, support groups||help reduce distress, anxiety and depression; improve quality of life|
|hypnotherapy||reduces pain, anxiety, nausea and vomiting|
|massage||improves quality of life; reduces anxiety, depression, pain and nausea|
|meditation, relaxation, mindfulness||reduce stress and anxiety; improve coping and quality of life|
|qi gong||reduces anxiety and fatigue; improves quality of life|
|spiritual practices||help reduce stress; instil peace; improve ability to manage challenges|
|tai chi||reduces anxiety and stress; improves strength, flexibility and quality of life|
|yoga||reduces anxiety and stress; improves general wellbeing and quality of life|
Alternative therapies are therapies used instead of conventional medical treatments. These are unlikely to be scientifically tested and may prevent successful treatment of the cancer. Cancer Council does not recommend the use of alternative therapies as a cancer treatment.
Nutrition and exercise
If you have been diagnosed with a NET, both the cancer and treatment will place extra demands on your body. Research suggests that eating well and exercising can benefit people during and after cancer treatment. Eating well and being active can help you cope with some of the common side effects of cancer treatment, speed up recovery and improve quality of life by giving you more energy, keeping your muscles strong, helping you maintain a healthy weight and boosting your mood.
Some people with NETs, especially pancreatic NETs or those who have had bowel surgery, may need specific dietary advice. The symptoms of carcinoid syndrome (facial flushing, diarrhoea) may be triggered by certain foods and drinks, and some vitamin deficiency syndromes may be more common. You can discuss individual nutrition and exercise plans with health professionals such as dietitians, exercise physiologists and physiotherapists.
Podcast: Coping with a Diagnosis
Dr David Chan, Medical Oncologist, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Leslye Dunn, Consumer; Prof Gerald Fogarty, Radiation Oncologist, St Vincent’s Hospital, NSW; Katie Golden, Consumer; Dr Grace Kong, Nuclear Medicine Physician, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Elizabeth Paton, Melanoma and Skin Cancer Trials Group, NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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