Endocrine Cancer

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Endocrine tumors can be benign or malignant growths that develop in the endocrine system -- the network of glands that produce hormones. It includes the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, and pituitary glands and the pancreas. 

Thyroid cancer is the most common malignancy of the endocrine system and one of the most common cancers in the U.S. Many other endocrine cancers are rare and are frequently benign, meaning they do not spread. Neuroendocrine tumors are also rare and can occur in the endocrine and nervous systems. 

If you are diagnosed with a tumor that originates in the endocrine system, you’ll be cared for by our team of highly specialized doctors that includes endocrinologists, endocrine surgeons, oncologists, and others who work together to coordinate your care, so you experience the best possible outcome. 

Our Locations

You can see your doctors, get lab work and imaging tests, and receive certain types of treatment at our cancer centers in Durham, Raleigh, and Cary. In addition, the Duke Cancer Network provides an array of cancer services through a network of community cancer programs.

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Treatment Options

Non-Surgical Options for Endocrine Tumors
Not every case requires surgery. Depending on your type of endocrine cancer, your care team may recommend minimally invasive treatment known as ablation therapy. This kind of treatment uses extreme heat or cold to kill cancer cells. 

Surgical Care for Endocrine Tumors
If surgery is required, we offer minimally invasive options that result in shorter hospital stays and faster recovery. If more complex surgery is necessary, our surgeons are experienced in neck and abdominal endocrine-specific procedures. We’ll coordinate your care before, during, and after surgery to include other medication or therapy options that work to reduce the likelihood of cancer recurrence.

Best Cancer Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

Why Choose Duke

The Duke Cancer Institute
The Duke Cancer Institute brings together the extensive resources of Duke University, Duke Health, and the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. We are committed to making innovative discoveries, developing new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer, and delivering those therapies in a patient- and family-centric way.

A Comprehensive Team of Specialists
Our team of specialists is trained to treat cancers that originate or spread to glands in the endocrine system. In addition to endocrinologists, you may receive care from surgeons who specialize in endocrine surgery, head and neck surgery, and neurosurgery. Your team may also include medical, radiation, and surgical oncologists, as well as nurse practitioners; physician assistants; nutritionists; genetic counselors; social workers; and others. Our referral navigators help you coordinate your care and appointments.

A Personalized Approach
Different kinds of endocrine cancer can cause different symptoms and may require different tests and treatments. Your team will use a range of tests to diagnose your cancer. We often start with ultrasound before determining the next steps, such as biopsies, advanced imaging with PET, CT, and MRI scans; and molecular or genetic testing. These help us tailor treatment to your specific type of cancer. Many cases are discussed during our weekly meetings, which are attended by specialists from surgery, endocrinology, pathology, radiology, and oncology. Together, we recommend a personalized approach that works best for you and your condition. 

Support Services
Many of our cancer centers give you opportunities to participate in support groups and provide education to help you cope with side effects and emotional and psychological concerns. We also offer access to complementary therapies, classes in chemotherapy and cancer nutrition, and free legal services.

NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
As a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center, we provide a level of cancer expertise and experience only found in the top four percent of U.S. centers. We are also part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving patient care. Our experts collaborate with the American Thyroid Association, American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, and National Comprehensive Center Network to help set national standards for the treatment of endocrine cancers.

This page was medically reviewed on 06/28/2021 by