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Carcinoid Tumors

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Typically found in the gastrointestinal system, carcinoid cancer can also occur in the pancreas and lungs.

What are carcinoid tumors?

Carcinoid tumors are a subset of tumors called neuroendocrine tumors, typically affecting parts of the gastrointestinal tract, such as the appendix, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum. This type of cancer tends to be slow growing.

Who develops carcinoid tumors?

Older adults are more likely to develop carcinoid tumors than younger people, and women have a higher risk than men. Smoking and having conditions that affect the stomach’s ability to produce acid increase the risk of carcinoid tumors.

What are the symptoms of carcinoid tumors?

Carcinoid tumors often don’t cause symptoms until the disease is advanced. Symptoms include skin flushing (redness with a feeling of warmth), wheezing, diarrhea and a fast heartbeat.

How are carcinoid tumors diagnosed?

Depending on where the cancer is located, imaging tests, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, may be performed. For carcinoid tumors of the lungs, sputum cytology (a test in which mucus coughed up from the lungs is examined under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells), bronchoscopic biopsy or endobronchial ultrasound may be performed. For gastrointestinal tumors, cells may be removed for testing via endoscopic biopsy or surgery if less invasive methods cannot gather enough cells for testing.

How are carcinoid tumors treated?

Treatment for carcinoid tumors varies depending on a variety of factors, including the type of carcinoid, the tumor’s size and location, its stage and your individual health. Treatment options may include a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and other drug treatments.
If you need surgery, learn more about Valley’s Institute for Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery. Our Lung Cancer Center provides care for carcinoid tumors of the lung.

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