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Irrfan Khan - Battle Against Neuroendocrine Tumour!

Dr. Aastha Gupta 90% (116 ratings)
MBBS, MD - General Medicine, Certification In Diabetes
Endocrinologist, Delhi  •  10 years experience
Irrfan Khan - Battle Against Neuroendocrine Tumour!

Irrfan Khan's saddening revelation about his health and diagnosis of Neuroendocrine tumour (NET) has undoubtedly created a rage amongst his fans, which is now being followed by good wishes for speedy recovery from his supporters all across social media.  

The actor shared in an emotional Twitter post that he’s been diagnosed with NET, a rare tumour that develops from cells of the neuroendocrine system and grows predominantly in the digestive or respiratory tract - lungs, appendix, small intestine, rectum, and pancreas - it can occur in any part of the body.

Here is more on Irrfan’s disease:

What is NET?

A neuroendocrine tumor is characterized by a rapid and abnormal growth that happens in the nerve cells which produce hormones. Hormones control how different organs in the body work.

It is a condition wherein, endocrine cells, the hormone-producing cells of the body, develop a tumor in any part of the body - while it can can grow in lungs or the thymus, or more rarely, in the ovaries, kidneys, or testicles - the most common is lung, intestines, and pancreas.

What causes NET?

A neuroendocrine tumour is quite a rare disease, occurs in less than one per million cases. The exact cause is not known.

The Symptoms-

It can cause a myriad of symptoms, depending on where in the body the NET is.

  1. If it is in your digestive system, it can cause pain or discomfort in the abdomen area that comes and goes. You may feel sick, nauseated, vomited, or there may be a change in how often you pass stools.
  2. If the NET is in the lung, it can cause shortness of breath, chest infections, or you can even have a cough up blood.
  3. Weight loss and loss of appetite may also be some common signs of a neuroendocrine tumour.
  4. Some NETs may overproduce a hormone-like substance called serotonin. This causes a group of symptoms called carcinoid syndrome. Symptoms include wheezing (like asthma), flushing of the skin and diarrhoea.

Who can be affected with NET?

  1. These tumours, depending on the type, are more common in certain age or sex. And few have very strong family history too.
  2. People who have a rare condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia 1 have an increased risk of developing a NET.

Did You Know?

Apple founder ‘Steve Jobs‘ died from the same disease in 2011. The tumour affected his pancreas.

Know The Different Types of NET:

Based on the organ that is affected, NET can vary a lot. When the chromaffin cells that produce adrenaline are affected, it is called Pheochromocytoma, and it is related to the stress levels of the body.

When a cell is formed abnormally under the skin and the hair follicles, it is called Merkel cell cancer. This is also called neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin and the condition can occur anywhere in the body. The commonly occurring places include lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and brain.

The status of the tumour, cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign), decides the survival rate. Often slow-growing and noncancerous, they can invade surrounding parts of the body and at times, turn cancerous and spread across the body. However, you can still choose to live a good quality life with strict modifications in diet and lifestyle. The changes are made after taking into consideration the symptoms of the tumor. The organ where the tumor is formed also matters.

How Is It Treated?

Treatment depends on the location of the tumour, its type, how severe it is and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Usually, the first treatment choice is surgery to remove the tumour. And, if the NET cannot be removed, your will prescribed with a treatment that will not only relieve the symptoms but will also improve the quality of your life.

How can a NET be prevented?

The first thing you need to do for the prevention of NET is to curb stress. Stress affects the entire body severely.

Lifestyle modifications:

A healthy lifestyle is what you need to stick to if you want to manage its symptoms during the treatment cycle. Your doctor will prescribe you to do exercises at least 4 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes. You can also try a walk instead of strenuous exercises.

People with carcinoid syndrome may be advised to avoid food or activities that may trigger flushing, such as eating spicy food or drinking alcohol.

Indulge yourself in therapies that help in gaining more positive energy. If you are already affected by NET, eliminate all the sources of stress and get a good night's sleep every day. Join the support groups that make you grow strong and happy. After all, the mind is devised to do miracles when it is full of life and positive thoughts.

Is Irrfan Khan's tumour curable?

Dr Saumitra Rawat, HOD, Surgical Gastroenterology & Liver Transplant, Sri Ganga Ram Hospital, said, "NeuroEndocrine Tumour is an abnormal growth of Neuroendo cells which are present in bodies. When there is an abnormal growth, then it forms a tumor - Normally seen in intestine, pancreas, lung, thyroid and other parts of the body".

On commenting on Khan's case, he said, "It depends on the location of tumour, its size, and what is its mitotic index".

"Depending on where the tumour is localized, you can take it out surgically and the chances of cure are very high", Dr Rawat explained.

Actor Irrfan, who has been diagnosed with the disease is one of the most versatile actors in India, has also made a name for himself in the west, where he has been an important part of critically-acclaimed films such as ‘The Namesake’, ‘Jurassic World’, and ‘Life of Pi’. At home, the actor has delivered remarkable performances in films such as ‘Haasil’, ‘Paan Singh Tomar’, ‘Maqbool’, ‘Lunch Box’, ‘Piku’, and the most recent ‘Hindi Medium’.

Irrfan Khan is not just a disarmingly natural actor, but also an endearing human being -- honest and humble to the core. It’s time to stand together and pray for him a speedy recovery!

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