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What are the risk factors?

The causes of most NETs are not known. However, there are several risk factors:

Genetic factors

Some rare, inherited diseases can put people more at risk of NETs. These include multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN 1, MEN 2), Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex and neurofibromatosis.

Other factors

Some NETs may be linked to pre-existing conditions such as:

  • peptic ulcers (in the stomach or duodenum) may increase the risk of NETs in these areas
  • diabetes – people with diabetes may be more likely to develop pancreatic NETs.

Merkel cell carcinoma is linked to overexposure to the sun and ultraviolet light; it may also be caused by the Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV).

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Understanding Neuroendocrine Tumours

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed February 2021 by the following expert content reviewers: Dr David Chan, Medical Oncologist, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Leslye Dunn, Consumer; Prof Gerald Fogarty, Radiation Oncologist, St Vincent’s Hospital, NSW; Katie Golden, Consumer; Dr Grace Kong, Nuclear Medicine Physician, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Elizabeth Paton, Melanoma and Skin Cancer Trials Group, NSW.