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Neuroendocrine Tissue Tumors in Dogs


Robert J. Kemppainen

, DVM, PhD, Department of Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University

Last full review/revision Jun 2018 | Content last modified Jun 2018

Neuroendocrine tissues are tissues that have both nervous system and hormone-producing functions. They are found in a number of locations throughout the body. Tumors develop occasionally from neuroendocrine cells in the adrenal or thyroid glands, digestive tract, or pancreas. These tumors can be benign or malignant. Even if benign, a growing tumor can disrupt nearby normal tissues and, in some cases, secrete excess hormone.

Tumors that develop from C-cells in the thyroid occur less often than other types of thyroid tumors, and they are less likely to spread to other parts of the body. Diarrhea is the most common sign of these types of tumors. Treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and radioactive iodine.

Chemoreceptor organs are derived from neuroendocrine tissue. They can detect very small changes in the carbon dioxide and oxygen content and pH of the blood, and they help regulate breathing and circulation. Tumors in chemoreceptor tissue usually develop principally in either the aortic body (found in the chest) or in the carotid bodies (found in the neck). Tumors of the aortic and carotid bodies are seen most often in brachycephalic breeds of dogs, such as Boxers and Boston Terriers. The tumors do not secrete excess hormone but may cause problems by placing pressure on the heart, blood vessels, and nerves. Aortic body tumors are more common but are less likely to spread to other parts of the body (metastasize) than carotid body tumors.

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