Endocrine glands in different parts of your body produce different types of hormones. Endocrine cancer occurs when these glands develop tumours.
Endocrine tumours are classified by:
- the particular endocrine glands involved
- the type of cell from which the cancer develops
- the part of the body affected
If a GP suspects you have endocrine cancer, they will conduct an examination and may arrange for you to have more tests.
If the GP sees anything unusual, they will refer you to a specialist in the Royal Victoria Hospital or Belfast City Hospital.
You will then be contacted and given an appointment.
Investigations and diagnosis
Investigations usually begin with your GP, who will ask about your symptoms and general health before carrying out an examination. The GP may also do some blood tests.
If the GP then refers you to our service, you will be seen by a Consultant Endocrine Specialist or nurse. They will carry out an examination and may recommend further investigations.
These investigations may include:
- blood tests
- ultrasound of the abdomen
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- PET scan
The tests and scans you have will depend on your symptoms and the areas of your body affected.
Within a week of your investigations, you will be seen at a clinic. You will have an opportunity to discuss your results with a specialist.
There are two multi-disciplinary teams involved in the treatment of endocrine cancer:
- Endocrine Cancer Team
- Neuro-Endocrine Cancer Team
The teams meet every month to discuss test results, patient diagnosis and treatment plans.
A copy of any discussions will be sent to the patient’s GP.
There are a range of treatments for patients with endocrine tumours. Your treatment plan is tailored to your personal needs.
The treatment given will depend on the type and size of your tumour, or whether it has spread.
- thyroid hormone replacement
- radioactive iodine treatment
- radionuclide therapy
- biological targeted therapy
- drug treatment
You will be asked to sign a consent form before treatment. No medical treatment can be given without patient consent.
It is important that you read and understand this form before signing it.
After your treatment is complete, you will be asked to return to the hospital for follow-up appointments.
These review appointments allow us to check the progress of your recovery. They are also an opportunity for you to discuss any concerns you may have.
If you have any problems or notice any new symptoms in between review appointments, contact your Clinical Nurse Specialist, Consultant or GP. You may need additional treatment or rehabilitation services.
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