This site has been initiated and developed by Ipsen Ltd.
This site has been initiated and developed by Ipsen Ltd.

The tests that may be considered are shown in the table below

Medical history Personal and family medical history
Biopsy Fine needle biopsy
Tumour marker tests Blood and urine tests
Imaging methods Ultrasound
Computed tomography (CT)
Digestive endoscopy and endoscopic ultrasound
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Scintigraphy scans Octreotide scan or octreotide scintigraphy or somatostatin receptor scintigraphy
MIBG scan
Bone scan (bone scintigraphy)
Positron emission tomography (PET) (can be combined with CT or MRI)
Other tests Bronchoscopy
Lung function tests

Medical history and physical examination

Before performing any tests for NETs, your doctor will probably ask questions about your medical history.


This is a record of present symptoms, risk factors and the medical events and problems that you have had in the past. The medical history of your relatives may also help the doctor to diagnose neuroendocrine cancer.

When taking a medical history, your doctor may ask questions about:

  • Whether anyone else in your family has or has had cancer or similar problems.
  • A family history of disorders like multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) and Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome, which are rare genetic disorders that cause the development of multiple tumours.
  • Your signs and symptoms of NETs.

A physical examination will also allow your doctor to look for any signs of NETs and any areas of pain or tenderness, or any lumps or bumps.


It your doctor suspects NETs they might take a tissue sample from the suspected tumour in your body. This is usually carried out using a method called ‘fine needle biopsy’, in which a thin needle is inserted into the body to remove the tissue – similar to taking a blood sample.

You’ll receive a local anaesthetic to numb the biopsy site first. The sample will then be examined by a pathologist, who will analyse it under a microscope to confirm the presence of the tumour and describe their characteristics.

In some cases, the pathologist may give your tumours a proliferative index that you may see noted as ‘Ki-67’.

This indicates how fast the cells are dividing (proliferating). A proliferation index of less than 2% (Ki-67 less than 2%) means that the tumour is growing very slowly, while an index higher than 10% (Ki-67 greater than 10%) suggests it has a faster growth rate.

Remember that, even if the Ki-index shows that your tumour has a faster growth rate than normal, NETs are relatively slow growing and many factors are needed to determine your likely long-term outcome. The doctor may use this test to determine what treatment is necessary and repeat the test periodically to monitor the effects of certain treatments for NETs that you may receive.

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Find out more about NETs

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FAQs by experts


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This site is intended for a UK audience only. SOM-UK-003737 September 2018