Mumbai: “Little had I known that my search for rare stories would make me find a rare disease.” Irrfan Khan, the actor posted. Amidst much speculations for the last few days, the actor has confirmed that the disease he is suffering from is neuroendocrine tumor. This is a disease that affects fewer than 1 million cases per year in India.
A neuroendocrine tumor begins in the hormone-producing cells of the body’s neuroendocrine system, which is made up of cells that are a combination of hormone-producing endocrine cells and nerve cells.
Types of neuroendocrine tumors
Pheochromocytoma: Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor that begins in the chromaffin cells of the adrenal gland. These specialized cells release the hormone adrenaline during times of stress.
Symptoms: high blood pressure, anxiety attacks, fever, headaches, sweating, nausea, vomiting, clammy skin, rapid pulse, heart palpitations.
Merkel cell cancer: Merkel cell cancer is a highly aggressive, or fast-growing, rare cancer. It starts in hormone-producing cells just beneath the skin and in the hair follicles. It is usually found in the head and neck region.
Symptoms: Painless, firm, shiny lumps on the skin that can be red, pink, or blue.
Neuroendocrine carcinoma: Around 60 per cent of neuroendocrine tumors cannot be described as anything other than “neuroendocrine carcinoma”. Neuroendocrine carcinoma can start in a number of places in the body, including the lungs, brain, and gastrointestinal tract.
Symptoms: Hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, diarrhea, persistent pain in a specific area, loss of appetite or weight loss, a cough or hoarseness that does not go away, thickening or lump in any part of the body, changes in bowel or bladder habits, unexplained weight gain or loss, jaundice, unusual bleeding or discharge, persistent fever or night sweats, headaches, anxiety, gastric ulcer disease, skin rash. Some people also experience nutritional deficiencies before a diagnosis, such as niacin and protein deficiency. Others develop this symptom later.
The neuroendocrine tumour is a rare occurrence, with incidence much lower than breast cancer. “Ordinarily it can be found in multiple location in abdomen, such as in pancreas or intestine, but rarely do we find the tumour in lung or brain,” he said. He added that the neuroendocrine tumour is of two grades even in abdomen. “A low grade cancer patient can live for several years. In high grade, it requires chemotherapy, and surgical procedures, but life expectancy is still less.” according to Doctors.