Surgery is the only therapy that can cure a NET cancer. However, the typical delay in diagnosis, giving the tumor the opportunity to spread (metastasize), makes most NET cancers ineligible for curative surgery (non-resectable).
If the tumor is contained in one area (localized), or if there has been only limited spread, surgery is usually the first choice of treatment. If it is possible to remove the tumor completely, and there has been no spread, additional treatment may not be necessary.
If the tumor has spread (metastasized), surgery may still be possible to remove the part of the tumor that is producing too many hormones. This is often referred to as tumor debulking.
If a NET is blocking an organ, such as the bowel, surgery may be helpful to relieve the blockage (obstruction). If the tumor has spread to the liver, surgery can be used to remove the parts of the liver containing the tumor. Very occasionally, a liver transplant may be considered.
Surgery may be used throughout a patient’s treatment plan for many reasons, including in combination with other therapies.