Clinical presentation, recurrence, and survival in patients with neuroendocrine tumors: results from a prospective institutional database

Endocr Relat Cancer. 2013 Mar 22;20(2):187-96. doi: 10.1530/ERC-12-0340. Print 2013 Apr.


The rarity of neuroendocrine tumors (NET) has contributed to a paucity of large epidemiologic studies of patients with this condition. We characterized presenting symptoms and clinical outcomes in a prospective database of over 900 patients with NET. We used data from patient questionnaires and the medical record to characterize presenting symptoms, disease-free survival (DFS), and overall survival (OS). The majority of patients in this database had gastroenteropancreatic NET. The median duration of patient-reported symptoms before diagnosis was 3.4 months; 19.5% reported durations from 1 to 5 years, 2.5% from 5 to 10 years, and 2% >10 years. The median DFS among patients with resected small bowel NET or pancreatic NET (panNET) was 5.8 and 4.1 years respectively. After correcting for left truncation bias, the median OS was 7.9 years for advanced small bowel NET and 3.9 years for advanced panNET. Chromogranin A (CGA) above twice the upper limit of normal was associated with shorter survival times (hazard ratios 2.8 (1.9, 4.0) P<0.001) in patients with metastatic disease, regardless of tumor subtype. Our data suggest that while most NET patients are diagnosed soon after symptom onset, prolonged symptom duration before diagnosis is a prominent feature of this disease. Though limited to observations from a large referral center, our observations confirm the prognostic value of CGA and suggest that median survival durations may be shorter than that reported in other institutional databases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chromogranin A / blood
  • Databases, Factual
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / blood
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / diagnosis*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / epidemiology
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence
  • Young Adult


  • Chromogranin A