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What are the characteristics of a neuroendocrine tumor?

Neuroendocrine tumors appear as solid masses that often have a yellowish appearance. Under the microscope, neuroendocrine tumors are composed of round or ovoid cells with a granular cytoplasm and nuclei that have a salt and pepper appearance. The cells often form nests or may form small follicles or gland-like structures. By electron microscopy, the tumor cells have dense secretory granules, which store substances that are often secreted by the tumor. Neuroendocrine tumors can be further evaluated to determine if they make certain proteins or markers using a technique called immunohistochemistry. Common markers used include synaptophysin and chromogranin A. Neuron-specific enolase, keratin and Ki-67 are also useful in certain situations. Staining for substances that might be secreted such as insulin, glucagon or serotonin is applied in certain categories of neuroendocrine tumors. 

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