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Neuroendocrine Tumors in the Spotlight on Rare Disease Day February 29

Twitter Chat Hosted by @MontefioreNews on February 29, at 2 p.m., #Monte_NETs

Bronx, NY (February 24, 2012) - On February 29, which is Rare Disease Day, Steven Libutti, MD, Vice Chairman of Surgery and Director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care will host a Twitter chat about the signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of neuroendocrine tumors, or NETs, a rare form of cancer.  Follow @MontefioreNews on Twitter and use the hashtag #Monte_NETs to be part of the conversation, which begins at 2 p.m. and will be moderated by the Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network, the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation, and VHL Family Alliance.

The death last fall of Apple founder Steve Jobs brought worldwide  attention to pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, one of numerous NETs that can occur in the endocrine organs and nervous system, which work to keep the body functioning normally.

There is no singular set of characteristics that define NETs. "These tumors are frequently discovered after they have spread to other parts of the body, largely because they often don't cause symptoms, or they cause symptoms that mimic other more common conditions," said Dr. Libutti, who is a NETs expert.

Compared to more common types of cancer such as breast, prostate, lung and colorectal, NETs are rare and affect approximately 12-15,000 people in the U.S. each year.  NETs most commonly occur in the gastrointestinal system, but they can also occur in the lungs and in the neuroendocrine system's major glands (pancreas, thyroid/parathyroid, adrenal, etc.) all of which release hormones that fuel important body functions such as growth, metabolism and reproduction.

The Endocrine and Neuroendocrine Tumor Program at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care is the first of its kind in the New York-metropolitan area and one of only a few in the country. Under Dr. Libutti's direction, a multi-disciplinary team of specialists evaluates and treats all types and stages of endocrine and neuroendocrine tumors, both benign and malignant. These include tumors associated with the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, pancreas and gastrointestinal tract (carcinoids). The program also focuses on patients with familial syndromes, such as von Hippel-Lindau, MEN-1, MEN-2 and SDH and offers genetic counseling, as well as opportunities to participate in clinical trials.