So you have heard the words “breast cancer” and Neuroendocrine and you turned to the internet and googled “it.”  You’ve been surfing around online trying to make sense of what is happening to you, to sort it out and to put together some sort of plan. I know, I did the same thing.  That is why I started breast cancer MyStory.  It is here for you so you’d have a soft space online to land when the hard diagnosis of breast cancer hits.  Take your time to wander our site.  In all your frantic worries of the moment, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers (thus the photo reminder of some flowers I photographed outside my son Kyle’s apartment in Chicago). We are here for you 24/7 and you are welcome anytime.


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Neuro-Endocrine Breast Carcinoma

Neuro-endocrine breast cancer is a name frequently given to a generic ductal carcinoma (NOS or ‘not otherwise specified’) with a predominant neuro-endocrine differentiation. In order to be diagnosed as neuro-endocrine carcinoma, at least 50% of tumor cells must test positive for neuro-endocrine markers. Other common and historical names for this type of breast cancer include spindle cell endocrine breast carcinoma, carcinoid endocrine breast carcinoma, breast carcinoma with endocrine differentiation, and argyrophilic carcinoma of the breast.


neuroendocrine breast cancer tumor

What does neuro-endocrine mean?

The ‘endocrine system’ concerns all aspects of the human biogical system associated with the production and regulation of hormones. Hormones typically function as ‘growth-signals’ for cells, but at other times they may inhibit or simply maintain the function of their target cells. ‘Neuro-endocrine‘ refers to those particular cells which release hormones into the circulating blood stream in response to a ‘neural’ (brain or nervous system) stimulus. Neuro-endocrine breast cancer therefore describes a tumor in which at least 50% of the malignant cells are, or were, neuro-endocrine cells.

Statistical prevalence of neuro-endocrine breast carcinoma

Neuro-endocrine breast carincoma is thought to account for about 5% of all breast cancers. This type of breast malignancy is most common in older women, increasing in frequency with age. Neuro-endocrine carcinoma also tends to present as a low-grade, slow-growing cancer, although higher grades of the disease are most likely referred to by different names, such as small-cell carcinoma. Statistics on neuro-endocrine carcinoma tend to be a little vague, as the name is often associated with other common breast carcinomas like papillary carcinoma, micropapillary carcinoma, and mucinous or colloid carcinoma. Neuro-endocrine cells are common in these and other cancer variants but not in sufficient quantities for a differentiated identification. There is some speculation that where there is neuro-endocrine differentiation in a mucinous breast carcinoma, histoligical features tend to be more favorable and prognosis is improved. But, little is known about potential advantages of high neuro-endocrine involvement in other breast cancers. One particular strain of neuro-endocrine breast carcinoma is referred to as the ‘Apocrine phenotype’ ( with postive adrogen receptor status in at least 50% of cells ) which is only associated with elderly women. In fact, one of the reasons statistics surrounding neuro-endocrine breast cancer are somewhat ambiguous is that, given it’s slow-growing nature its tendency to develop in older women, cause of death is often due to other factors related to ‘old age’ and not directly linked to the breast cancer. However, with increased research specifically on differentiated neuro-endorcrine breast carcinoma the statistical occurrence is bound to decrease. Some studies suggest the actually rate neuro-endocrine breast cancer to be less than 2% of all breast carcinomas.


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