Carcinoid Syndrome (Carcinoid Tumor)

  • Medical Author:
    Dennis Lee, MD

    Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

woman with abdominal pain

Carcinoid tumor facts

  • Carcinoid tumors are rare tumors that develop from hormone-producing cells called enterochromaffin cells that occur throughout the body with approximately 65% originating in the gastrointestinal tract and 25% in the lungs.
  • Carcinoid tumors can occur almost anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract but primarily in the stomach, small intestine, appendix, colon, and rectum.
  • Carcinoid tumors can be benign or malignant. Even when they are malignant, carcinoid tumors are usually slow-growing.
  • The carcinoid syndrome is a syndrome that is caused by the release of hormones and other chemical substances called vasoactive amines from carcinoid.
  • The carcinoid syndrome may include manifestations such as abdominal pain, wheezing, facial flushing, diarrhea, heart disease, and "carcinoid crisis."
  • Carcinoid tumors can be found by endoscopy, barium small intestinal x-ray studies, and by capsule enteroscopy. Their diagnosis requires a biopsy to provide a tissue sample.
  • Metastatic carcinoid tumors can be diagnosed by CT or MRI scans, indium 111 octreotide scans, and bone scans.
  • Carcinoid tumors can be managed with observation, surgery, cryotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, hepatic artery embolization, interferon therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
  • The carcinoid syndrome's manifestations can be blocked or lessened by medication.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/27/2015

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