Nothing But NET: A Review of Neuroendocrine Tumors and Carcinomas

Neoplasia. 2017 Dec;19(12):991-1002. doi: 10.1016/j.neo.2017.09.002. Epub 2017 Nov 5.


This review covers the diverse topic of neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs), a relatively rare and heterogeneous tumor type, comprising ~2% of all malignancies, with a prevalence of <200,000 in the United States, which makes it an orphan disease (Basu et al., 2010).1 For functional purposes, NENs are divided into two groups on the basis of clinical behavior, histology, and proliferation rate: well differentiated (low grade to intermediate grade) neuroendocrine tumors and poorly differentiated (high grade) neuroendocrine carcinoma (Bosman et al., 2010)2; this histological categorization/dichotomization is highly clinically relevant with respect to impact on treatment and prognosis even though it is not absolute since a subset of tumors with a low-grade appearance behaves similarly to high-grade lesions. Given the relative dearth of evidenced-based literature about this orphan disease as a whole (Modlin et al., 2008),3 since the focus of most articles is on particular anatomic subtypes of NENs (i.e., gastroenteropancreatic or pulmonary), the purpose of this review is to summarize the presentation, pathophysiology, staging, current standard of care treatments, and active areas of current research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / therapy
  • Disease Management
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / diagnosis*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / epidemiology
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / etiology*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / therapy


  • Biomarkers, Tumor