Take Care of Yourself With Neuroendocrine Tumors

From diet to exercise to tapping into a good support network, you can do several things to help yourself feel better when you have neuroendocrine tumors (NET).

A lot depends on where your tumor is and the kind of symptoms it causes. For some folks, a rash and a headache are big issues. Others might have stomach trouble or gain or lose weight. And for just about everyone, finding a way to cut stress while you manage your health is a top concern.

No matter your priority, lifestyle changes can go a long way to keep your mind and body healthy.

Skip the Wine and Cheese

Some people with NETs have a group of symptoms called carcinoid syndrome. You may find that some kinds of foods and drinks trigger problems like:

  • Reddening skin
  • Painful gas and bloating
  • Severe diarrhea

If that happens to you, pass up treats like:

  • Aged or blue cheeses
  • Chocolate
  • Red wine
  • Beer

All these things are high in amines, compounds that affect your blood pressure or body temperature.

Other foods high in amines include :

  • Smoked meats like salami or sausage
  • Pickled fish like herring
  • Fermented foods like miso or sauerkraut

If you cut back on wine and other alcoholic drinks, you can get some relief from skin flushing in particular. Because NETs tend to affect the liver, it's a good idea to avoid alcohol anyway. 

Some other diet tips that may help you ease your symptoms or feel better while you treat your disease:

  • Eat smaller, frequent meals.
  • Avoid fatty, greasy, or highly spicy foods.
  • Go for whole, natural foods over processed ones high in salt.

Eating healthy foods can keep your strength and energy up while you get treatment for your tumor. If you're going into chemotherapy, make sure to get enough calories and protein.

Living Right

While no diet or vitamin can treat your disease, a healthy lifestyle can help you feel better in general. Keep up with exercise, such as taking a half-hour walk, three times a week or more. And if you smoke, quit.

Take a multivitamin, if you want. Some people with NETs don't have enough of a nutrient called niacin. This could cause you to have dry, cracking skin around your mouth. A balanced diet or a vitamin supplement may help.

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Get More Support

It's natural to feel anxious, stressed out, and sometimes depressed when you find out you've got a NET. If you don't take care of your emotional needs, it can make it harder to treat your tumor.

It can help a lot to set up a support network you rely on. You might benefit from going to a support group for people who have NETs.

Meditation helps some people manage stress. Talk to your doctor if you need help dealing with it.  

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on May 01, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Diane Reidy-Lagunes, MD, medical oncologist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City.

Vijay Shivaswamy, MBBS, associate professor of internal medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha.

Northwoods NETS Minnesota Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Cancer Support: "Dietary Guidelines for Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumors."

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: "Neuroendocrine Carcinomas."

University of Pennsylvania OncoLink: "All About Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumors."

Carcinoid Cancer Foundation: "Nutrition and Diet for Carcinoid Patients."

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