UI Hospitals and Clinics

Neuroendocrine Cancer Program

No one likes to hear the word cancer – we know that. But if you do hear it, you want to feel comfortable knowing you're getting the best care available. We're here for you.

At University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, our highly experienced physicians and staff are dedicated to taking care of you, not just your cancer. As part of a nationally recognized cancer center, our team focuses on every aspect of neuroendocrine cancer – our clinicians are also top researchers, finding new and innovative treatments and therapies, as well as identifying genetic links that may pinpoint risk. We are on the leading edge of neuroendocrine research, always searching for ways to make the best cancer treatment even better.

Services that set us apart

  • Experts focused primarily on neuroendocrine cancer. Our team of specialists has been researching neuroendocrine cancers for decades. Because our neuroendocrine specialists concentrate primarily on these kinds of cancers, they understand the disease, know about the most recent treatment options from surgery to chemotherapy, and can help you determine what is best for you.
  • Innovative clinical trials. We not only offer access to the most recent treatment methods and therapies but our physicians are also neuroendocrine researchers, placing them right in the heart of the latest breakthroughs in neuroendocrine cancers. Our researchers received the only Neuroendorcine SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) grant in the country – a grant consisting of four independent NET research projects and clinical core facilities – from the National Cancer Institute.
  • Access to the highest resolution scanning equipment for diagnosis, treatment. Our doctors use the Gallium DOTA-PET (positron emission tomography) scanner, which provides fast, three-dimensional scans that are among the highest resolution available for diagnosing neuroendocrine tumors.
  • Multiple treatment options. Each neuroendocrine diagnosis is different, and each treatment option should be, too. Our doctors and staff work with you and create a treatment program that will best fit for you and your cancer. At Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, we use peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT), a molecular therapy used to treat neuroendocrine tumors (NETs).
  • New infusion suite designed with patients in mind. Our infusion suite was designed with patient input to create a comfortable, welcoming environment. Take our virtual tour.

Facts About Neuroendocrine Cancer

  • Neuroendocrine tumors are most often found in the digestive system and the lung, but can occur anywhere neuroendocrine cells are found.
  • Although rare, neuroendocrine tumors have increased five-fold in the last three decades,with an incidence of 5 cases per 100, 000 people. They occur with the same frequency in men and women and the average age at diagnosis is 62 years.
  • There are many different types of neuroendocrine tumors, that may vary in size and how fast they grow. These tumors can also metastasize – spread – to other parts of the body, like the liver or bone.
  • Not all neuroendocrine tumors cause symptoms, while others may cause symptoms resembling common respiratory or gastrointestinal ailments.
  • Neuroendocrine tumors can occur anywhere in the body, but the most common sites are the small intestine, pancreas, colon and rectum, lung, stomach, and appendix. Gastrointestinal tumors include those in the liver and gallbladder, as well. Because of these many possible locations, a team approach consisting of different specialists is often needed for the best treatment.

Cancer Care With You in Mind

Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only institution in Iowa to hold the prestigious designation of being a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). What that means for you is that we are recognized among the leading cancer centers in the United States; NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers are rated in the top 4 percent of the approximately 1,500 cancer centers in the United States. A recent study published in the journal Cancer showed that patients treated at NCI designated cancer centers have better survival outcomes than patients treated at non-NCI designated cancer centers.

To be considered a “comprehensive” center means our teams have expertise in clinical, laboratory and population-based research. Our doctors and staff are on top of the newest developments in cancer research, treatment and diagnosis.
That means our team of experts will design a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs – we don’t believe in "one size fits all."

Our multidisciplinary team is ready to offer all of the services you need for your neuroendocrine care. We know no one wants to stay in the hospital longer than necessary, so we work especially hard to make sure your treatment options are done on an out-patient basis, allowing you to rest in the comfort of your own home.

    Team-Based Approach

    We bring experts from different fields of medicine to work together as a team called a multidisciplinary oncology group. Because many neuroendocrine patients require more than one form of treatment, our team meets regularly to discuss the best course of treatment and works together to design the best personalized plan for every patient. The team includes Surgical Oncologists, Endocrine Oncologists, Medical Oncologists, Radiation Oncologists, Social Workers, Pathologists, Pediatric Oncologists, Pharmacists, Nurses, and laboratory-based Scientists. Our team of specialists focuses not just on neuroendocrine cancer, but on your neuroendocrine cancer.

    Neuroendocrine Cancer Research

    UI Receives Neuroendocrine SPORE Grant

    Researchers at the University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center have received a five-year, $10.67 million Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant to study neuroendocrine tumors. This is the first and only SPORE grant ever awarded to fund research on neuroendocrine tumors.

    Read more about our Neuroendocrine Cancer SPORE

    The Power of Clinical Trials

    Clinical trials is where research meets patient care. A great deal of research is done behind the scenes in laboratories, long before clinical trials can even begin. Clinical trials are research studies that test out the latest treatments and drugs that are not yet available to the wider public. These new treatments have the potential to improve your quality of life or increase your chances of survival.

    See a full list and learn more about neuroendocrine cancer clinical trials at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.

    Support our mission

    Our work is made possible in part by the support of donors through charitable giving. Friends of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center can become partners in the effort to control and ultimately cure cancer. Learn how you can help us make a difference for cancer patients.

    Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine Oncology Multidisciplinary Team


    Hematology Oncology

    Pediatric Oncology

    Radiation Oncology


    Nuclear Medicine






    • Catherine Metz, MD


    • Charles Lynch, MD, PhD
    • Doug Spitz, MD