Khan, in his note, also spoke about how his disease had made him realise the essence of what freedom is Image Credit: Supplied

Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan, who was recently diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer, has written about his fears and his struggles so far with the condition.  A rare form of cancer, neuroendocrine disorders can be fatal in some cases. Steve Jobs is another well-known figure who was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine cancer, in his pancreas.

What is it?

The NCI (National Cancer Institute of the United States) Dictionary of Cancer Terms defines a neuroendocrine tumour as one that forms from cells that release hormones into the blood in response to a signal from the nervous system. Most commonly occurring in the liver, the tumour may also be in the pancreas, lungs, skin or other organs of the body.

Is it fatal?

It is a near-fatal form of cancer, but this depends on various factors including early diagnosis, organs affected, stage of cancer, treatment trials and others. According to a 2015 research report, such cancers have an average survival rate of 5 years, which would mean that most patients survive for at least five years after diagnosis - but this again would depend on a multitude of factors.

Treatment options

Neuroendocrine cancers are usually slow-growing, and therefore, removal of the tumour is the preferred option. This method, after the tumour being diagnosed in early stages, is a good prognosis for most forms of the cancer.

Like other cancers, radiation, chemotherapy and targeted therapy are also common ways to manage the tumour - in case removal is not advised or if the cancer has spread to other organs (metastasis).