NBC News’ Antonia Hilton reveals the symptoms of the rare cancer

NBC News’ Antonia Hilton reveals the symptoms of the rare cancer

NBC News correspondent Antonia Hilton revealed for the first time that she has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, a neuroendocrine tumor.

As a journalist on the road, Hilton, 30, is used to waking up not feeling well. But about two years ago, she started having persistent stomach problems.

At first, it was easy for me to write this off, Hilton told TODAY’s Craig Melvin. She said she would say to herself, “I’m travelling, I’m on planes (and) I’m probably not on the best diet. But I love what I do, so it’s worth it and I’m not going to let symptoms hold me back.”

However, in August, I watched a segment on the TODAY show in which Craig retold the story of his brother’s death from colon cancer.

“Something really stuck with me,” she said. This, combined with a TikTok video of a woman who was diagnosed with colon cancer at 24, convinced Hilton to take her symptoms seriously.

At the same time, her symptoms were worsening. “I would wake up (and) my face was swollen. I was having trouble going to the bathroom for days in a row,” she said.

Knowing that black people have the highest rate of colon cancer in the United States and that she had a family history of colon cancer, Hilton said, “I went to see a specialist who sent me for a colonoscopy.”

Three weeks after her checkup — on her 30th birthday — Hilton returned home from a press trip to find that her doctor had left her a stack of letters.

A screening test revealed she had a tumor, which turned out to be a neuroendocrine tumor, a rare type of cancer that releases hormones into the bloodstream.

“I was panicking,” Hilton said.

Neuroendocrine tumors are rare, Dr. Nousheen Hosseini, a gastroenterologist and Hilton’s physician, told the TODAY show during a Nov. 30 segment.

Hosseini explained that while tumors can occur anywhere in the body, they most commonly develop in the digestive system, specifically the small intestine.

Hosseini said that symptoms depend on where the tumor is located in the body. Neuroendocrine tumors in the colon or rectum tend to have symptoms similar to those of colon cancer, such as:

  • Blood in stool.
  • Change in bowel habits.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Stomach ache.
  • exhaustion.

The good news for Hilton is that her doctor caught the tumor early. “I had a series of procedures to remove tissue and screening tests to see if the cancer had spread,” she said.

“The last scan showed that I am completely healthy.”

But the experience left Hilton with some important lessons about her body and health.

“I learned a really important lesson when I was 30, which was to listen to myself and put myself first,” she explained. “I love my job. I’ve worked hard here at NBC, and I’m not going to stop doing that. But I’ve learned the lesson that I really need to put my health first and not shirk these things.”

She is also grateful that her family shared her history of health issues with her so that she would be better prepared when she went to the doctor.

“On my dad’s side, (I have) the more classic colon cancer and the symptoms you normally think of. On my mom’s side, my grandmother… actually had neuroendocrine tumor as well,” she said. “I’m grateful to have family that talks about these things, so I was armed with this information.”

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