High grade, poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma with unknown primary origin. According to cancer.net:

A neuroendocrine tumor (NET) begins in the specialized cells of the body’s neuroendocrine system. These cells have traits of both hormone-producing endocrine cells and nerve cells. They are found throughout the body’s organs and help control many of the body’s functions. Hormones are chemical substances that are carried through the bloodstream to have a specific effect on the activity of other organs or cells in the body. All NETs are considered malignant tumors. Most NETs take years to develop and grow slowly. However, some NETs can be fast-growing.


The most common places your will find NETs is in the lungs and the GI tract. In rarer cases, they will develop in the pancreas, i.e. Steve Jobs and Aretha Franklin.

There are 3 “grades” for NETs, which is the equivalent of stages for other forms of cancer:

  • low grade – slow growing
  • intermediate grade – in the middle
  • high grade – aggressive growth

And differentiation. Whether the cells look healthy – well differentiated or not – poorly differentiated. This is important because cells that are healthy looking (look like actual cells) can be identified and tracked to the part of the body they originally came from.

Now let’s look back at the diagnosis. High grade, poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma with unknown primary origin.

My zebra isn’t common. His cancer is aggressive and we have no clue where in his body it started. It makes this thing hard to fight.

But he hasn’t given up yet and I love him more everyday because of it.

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