← Health Topics Index
Also known as: Tumor, Carcinoid
Carcinoid cancer is an unusual tumor of the bronchial (airway) and digestive tracts. These tumors can appear in the lungs, stomach, intestines and colon. They often grow slowly and can go undetected for many years, causing very vague symptoms. It’s often years before the right diagnosis is made.
Carcinoid tumors can secrete serotonin, a hormone that can cause carcinoid syndrome. With very advanced disease, there can also be damage to the heart.
Types of Carcinoid Tumors:
Type 1: Atrophic Gastritis: High gastrin levels but low gastric acid. May have multiple small tumors and pernicious anemia (lack of iron in the blood).
Type 2: Zollinger Ellison Syndrome: High gastrin levels with high gastric acid and severe peptic ulcer disease.
Type 3: Sporadic: Tumors are much larger than type 1 or 2 and are more likely to spread.
Duodenum (small intestine)
Carcinoid tumors can be diagnosed with:
Blood tests for chromogranin A, serotonin or pancreastatin
Urine tests for 5-HIAA
Imaging studies such as CT, MRI and Octreoscan
Some people with carcinoid tumors develop a special set of symptoms called carcinoid syndrome.
Carcinoid tumors are often treated for symptoms with somatostatin analogue. This is a drug that helps block surplus growth hormone coming from the tumor(s). It can be given as a short-acting or long-acting version.
It's important to remove the tumors to prevent future problems. Very large tumors, especially in the intestines, can cause blockages.
When the disease is advanced, it can be hard to manage. It may require special surgery to remove as much tumor as possible, or therapy to reduce blood flow to the tumor when the disease spreads to the liver.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center Main Number: 615-322-5000
The information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your existing physician or healthcare provider. Please contact your physician or healthcare provider for specific medical advice and/or treatment recommendations.
Links contained in this Web site to information provided by other organizations are presented as a service and neither constitutes nor implies Vanderbilt University Medical Center's endorsement or warranty.