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Invited Commentary
October 2017

Understanding Neuroendocrine Tumors—A NET Gain

Author Affiliations
  • 1Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
JAMA Oncol. 2017;3(10):1343-1344. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.0575

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), formerly neglected and long misunderstood, are finally getting the attention they deserve. This entity was first described in 1907 by Siegfried Oberndorfer,1 a German pathologist, who coined the term “karzinoide,” meaning cancerlike, to describe 7 cases of tumorlets found in the small intestine. His recognition of NETs was a critical contribution to the field, yet time has challenged some of his early hypotheses. His belief that these tumors “did not metastasize, did not reach any great size, and appeared harmless”1 has since been proven false. For decades NETs were often assumed to be benign and excluded from cancer registries, thus making rigorous and accurate epidemiologic studies difficult.

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