In a statement on March 16, 2018, Irrfan Khan announced that he’s been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. That rare cancer is a form of Neuroendocrine Tumour which happens when abnormal tissue growth starts in hormone-producing nervous cells and mostly develops in lungs and pancreas. The body’s neuroendocrine system is made up of cells that are a combination of hormone-producing endocrine cells and nerve cells. Neuroendocrine cells are found throughout the body in organs such as the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach and intestines. noun_Subway Tiles_509713 WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF NEUROENDOCRINE TUMORS? There are many types of neuroendocrine tumors. Focusing on three types here: pheochromocytoma, Merkel cell cancer, and neuroendocrine carcinoma. Merkel cell cancer. Merkel cell cancer, also known as neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin or trabecular cancer, is a highly aggressive, fast-growing, rare type of cancer. Usually found in the head and neck region, it starts in the hormone-producing cells just beneath the skin and in the hair follicles. Neuroendocrine carcinoma. Neuroendocrine carcinoma can start in a number of places in the body, including the lungs, brain, and gastrointestinal tract. Pheochromocytoma. Pheochromocytoma is a benign but rare tumor that begins in the chromaffin cells of the adrenal gland. Even though a pheochromocytoma is usually benign, it may still be life-threatening because the tumor may release large amounts of adrenaline into the bloodstream after injury. noun_Warning_140731WHAT CAN UP YOUR RISK? The following factors can raise a person’s risk of developing a neuroendocrine tumor: Age. Neuroendocrine tumours are most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60. Gender. Men are more likely to develop pheochromocytoma than women. Men are also more likely to develop Merkel cell cancer than women. Genes/Hereditary conditions. Certain conditions or disorders which are inherited can raise the risk of developing certain types of NET’s, for eg. Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN), caused by an inherited mutation of the MEN1 gene. A person with MEN can develop many endocrine tumours, which may be benign or cancerous. Family history. A family history of any type of cancer increases the risk of developing a NET, especially if there is a first-degree relative – a parent, sibling or child who had cancer. The higher risk could be due to genetic factors or similar lifestyle factors of a particular family. Immune system suppression. People with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and people whose immune systems are suppressed because of an organ transplant have a higher risk of developing a neuroendocrine tumor. Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV). Research indicates that there is a link between this virus and Merkel cell cancer. Arsenic exposure. Exposure to the poison arsenic may increase the risk of Merkel cell cancer. Sun exposure. Sun exposure may be a risk factor for Merkel cell cancer, which is often found on areas in the head and neck which are exposed to the sun. Diabetes. Some evidence has linked diabetes with an increased risk of developing NETs, particularly in the pancreas or stomach. noun_Symptom_1693803 WHAT SYMPTOMS SHOULD YOU WATCH OUT FOR? Symptoms will depend on where in the body the NET is. A NET in your digestive system may cause pain or discomfort in the stomach area (abdomen) that comes and goes. You may feel nauseous or vomit, or there may be a change in your bowel habits. A NET in the lung may cause chest infections and shortness of breath, or a cough or coughing up blood. Loss of appetite and weight loss may also be symptoms of a neuroendocrine tumour. Symptoms of Merkel cell cancer Painless, firm, shiny lumps on the skin that can be red, pink, or blue. Symptoms of neuroendocrine carcinoma Hyperglycemia, which is a high level of glucose in the blood. Hyperglycemia causes frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. Hypoglycemia, which is a low level of glucose in the blood. It causes fatigue, nervousness and shakiness, dizziness or light-headedness, sweating, seizures, and fainting. Diarrhea; and persistent pain in a specific area Loss of appetite or weight loss; Unexplained weight gain or loss; Changes in bowel or bladder habits A cough or hoarseness that does not go away Thickening or lump in any part of the body Jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes Unusual bleeding or discharge; Persistent fever or night sweats Headaches; Anxiety Skin rash Symptoms of pheochromocytoma High blood pressure; Rapid pulseAnxiety attacks;Heart palpitations Fever; Headaches Sweating; Clammy skin Nausea; Vomiting If you are concerned about any changes you experience, talk with your doctor.