Our March cover star Irrfan dropped the bomb on his social media followers over the weekend by confirming the news about his neurological medical condition, NeuroEndocrine Tumour (NET). And according to sources, his treatment has now been entrusted with an Indian doctor in London who both him and his wife have agreed to ‘charge of his treatment.’

“The doctor has closely examined Irrfan’s case and has reassured both him and his family that there’s no immediate danger to his life and that his condition is completely curable”

– A source quoted by Deccan Chronicle

But what is the course of this treatment going to be? And what actually is NeuroEndocrine Tumour all about? Here’s what the experts have to say.

About the disease

According to cancer.net, an endocrine tumour is a mass that begins in the parts of the body that produce and release hormones. Because an endocrine tumor develops from cells that produce hormones, the tumor can also produce hormones.

And NET is that endocrine tumour which affects the cells that are a combination of hormone-producing endocrine cells and nerve cells.  

Hormone-producing cells can be affected by various types of tumours including endocrine tumours, carcinoid tumours, thymoma, thyroid cancer, and islet cell tumours. But the most commonly found ones are Pheochromocytoma, Merkel cell cancer and Neuroendocrine carcinoma.

 

Is it fatal?

As Irrfan had mentioned in his latest message that NET does not always have to be ‘NEURO,’ it’s worth pointing out that Neuroendocrine cells can be found outside the body’s nervous system. They also exist in organs like the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach and intestines.

Secondly, the tumour can either be cancerous or benign. “A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body if it is not found early and treated,” says the website.

A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread. A benign tumor usually can be removed without it causing much harm 

Estimates vary, but the annual incidence of clinically significant neuroendocrine tumors is approximately 2.5–5 per 100,000; two thirds are carcinoid tumors and one third are other NETs, according to a 2011 research paper.

Is treatment possible?

More than 1,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with Merkel cell skin cancer each year, according to the website’s research.

Almost all people diagnosed with the disease are over age 50, and 90% of cases occur in white people. The 5-year survival rate of people with Merkel cell cancer is about 60%. It is much higher if the cancer is found early, before it has spread to the lymph nodes or distant parts of the body.

But the survival rate also depends on various factors including what part of the body the tumour is located in, the nature of the affected cells etc. And while all we can do is speculate about the specific nature of Irrfan’s condition right now, we wish him a speedy recovery, especially after he got candid with us on the sets of our latest cover shoot. Cinema still needs more of his brilliance.