Bollywood and Hollywood film star Irrfan Khan cancer was diagnosed as a neuroendocrine tumor in early or mid 2018. He underwent treatment in London for about a year and returned to India in February 2019. Unfortunately, Irrfan Khan passed away on April 29, 2020. We want to educate our readers on this rarely spoken about cancer.
What is a Neuroendocrine Tumor?
A neuroendocrine tumor (“NET”) is a relatively rare type of cancer that can occur in many parts of the body. This cancer is not only found in the brain despite the word “neuro”. Taking the word neuroendocrine apart, the tumor exists in places where the neurological and the endocrine systems work together. Most commonly, a neuroendocrine tumor is found in the intestine but is also frequently found on the lungs and pancreas. Not every neuroendocrine tumor is cancerous.
What are the Types of Neuroendocrine Tumors?
Neuroendocrine tumors are a very rare type of cancer. In the United States less than 1% of cancers fall into this category.
- Carcinoid tumors
- Merkel’s cell tumors
- Neuroendocrine carcinoma
What are the Symptoms? What are the Signs?
Neuroendocrine tumors may present with symptoms including:
- Weight loss
- Pain in the area
As these symptoms are not major, it is easy to miss or ignore. Delayed diagnosis may significantly worsen the treatment outcome. In many cases, these tumors can secrete excessive amounts of different hormones into the blood stream. This causes flushing of the face, sweating, and diarrhea. Different neuroendocrine cancers have different specific symptoms.
How to Diagnose a Neuroendocrine Cancer in India?
Generally speaking, neuroendocrine cancers are very hard to diagnose. Most are diagnosed only after they have spread to another body part or organ. In particular, carcinoid and neuroendocrine tumors are difficult to diagnose.
Like most cancers there are a variety of diagnostics tests required to properly diagnose this cancer:
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Camera capsule enteroscopy (minimally invasive procedure to view tumor with a small camera)
Do Neuroendocrine Tumors follow Stages?
As it’s not a single cancer but classified also on the body part staging information varies. There is not a single staging system used therefore. Staging should not be confused with grading. As per Irrfan Khan’s statement his tumor was “high grade” meaning it was more aggressive and thus more aggressive treatment approaches were likely used.
Irrfan Khan Cancer: What Treatment did he get?
The treatment will vary greatly depending on the part(s) of the body affected with cancer or if the cancer has metastasized. However, common cancer treatments including chemotherapy or surgery are likely to be the first line. While Irrfan Khan has not revealed many medical details about his cancer, he has revealed he underwent several rounds of chemotherapy. His condition improved significantly but it is unknown if his cancer is in full remission or he received treatment including maintenance therapy. It is highly likely his doctors followed a cancer guideline based treatment approach. If he does relapse it is likely his doctors will consider immunotherapy as a treatment option.
What is the Survival Rate?
Survival rates for this cancer vary depending on stage and what part of the body was affected. This information is required to understand the median survival rate for this cancer.
Can Irrfan Khan Cancer Relapse?
Relapse is a possibility with many cancers. Relapse rates do significantly vary depending on a number of factors. In order to relapse he will have to have beaten the cancer. Without more information, we cannot conclude what the changes are of a relapse for Irrfan Khan, but most likely it remains a possibility. Survival rates also vary greatly depending on the location, stage, grading, and other factors. It is likely his doctors will check for a cancer recurrence at regular intervals.
Irrfan Khan Cancer Tweet when he returned to India
— Irrfan (@irrfank) April 3, 2019
Irrfan Khan’s cancer battle was likely ongoing even after he returned to India. He never publicly revealed his treatment plan or further details surrounding his cancer type (to the best of our knowledge).
Update on April 29, 2020: Sadly Irrfan Khan passed away from a colon infection. We show our full support to his family and encourage our readers do the same. Our staff had met Mr. Khan years ago and remember him fondly.
What is a colon infection?
A colon infection is when the lining of the colon, present inside the large intestine gets inflamed. Infections can be caused to various of reasons including lower body immunity. Colon infection can be mild or can be deadly (especially toxic megacolon). External signs and symptoms are constipation of very long time, abdominal bloating or pain, palpation of hard fecal masses and, in toxic megacolon, fever, low blood potassium, tachycardia and may lead to shock.
Is colon infection linked with cancer?
In general, cancer treatment such as chemotherapy lowers the body immune system. Immunity helps our body block and fight any foreign object including viruses and bacteria. When the body cannot block it, there can be complications (including colon infection). When the infection is in our body, again the immune system is in charge to fight the infection. Because it has weaken, the infection can rapidly become more regressive than what it ordinarily would.
Worried about Cancer?
If you are worried about your risk to getting cancer please look at the MyRisk test. MyRisk tests genes known to cause cancer which are recommended by international guidelines. Strongly recommended if you have a family history of cancer.
*Disclaimer: Opinions in this post is solely for education purposes. This post has been written from the author’s personal point of view, combined with previously published public statements from Irrfan Khan, with reference links included wherever applicable. The views and content included here have not been endorsed by Irrfan Khan.
Published: May 28, 2019. Updated: September 3, 2019. Updated: April 18, 2020. Updated: April 29, 2020.