Carcinoid Tumor

Also known as: neuroendocrine tumor

What is a carcinoid tumor?

Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor. They are a cancer that grows slowly and typically impacts the lungs or areas of the digestive tract such as the colon, rectum, small intestine, stomach or appendix.  

What causes carcinoid tumors?

A carcinoid tumor grows in the neuroendocrine cells, which are found in organs throughout the body. The exact cause is not known, but gene mutations may be at the heart of its development, as with most cancers.

What are the symptoms of carcinoid tumors?

Many people with a carcinoid tumor do not experience symptoms. If symptoms occur due to a carcinoid tumor in the lungs, they can include shortness of breath, wheezing or chest pain, among other symptoms. Digestive tract tumors may lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and rectal pain and bleeding. Redness or a warm feeling in the face and neck can also occur with all types of carcinoid tumors.

How can carcinoid tumors affect children?

Carcinoid tumors are rare in children. When they do occur, they tend to be benign (non-cancerous), small and slow growing. They may be related to a disease known as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1).

What are carcinoid tumor treatments?

Medications known as somatostatin analogs, such as octreotide, may be prescribed for carcinoid tumors to manage symptoms. Surgery can also be used to remove the tumor. In some cases, chemotherapy may also be recommended, especially if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Reviewed by: Maggie Fader, MD

This page was last updated on: November 03, 2023 04:15 PM