Carcinoid Syndrome - Signs and Symptoms

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What were the signs and symptoms associated with your carcinoid tumor or syndrome?

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What is a carcinoid tumor?

A carcinoid tumor is a tumor that develops from enterochromaffin cells. Enterochromaffin cells are hormone-producing cells that normally are found in the small intestine, appendix, colon, rectum, bronchi, pancreas, ovaries, testes, bile ducts, liver, as well as other organs. Enterochromaffin cells produce many types of hormones for example, histamine, serotonin, dopamine, tachykinins, and other substances that have profound effects on the circulatory system (heart and blood vessels), the gastrointestinal tract, and the lungs. For example, serotonin can cause diarrhea, histamine wheezing, and tachykinins flushing due to dilation of blood vessels.

Since carcinoid tumors develop from enterochromaffin cells, they frequently retain the capability of producing the same hormones, often in large quantities. When these hormones circulate in the blood, they can cause symptoms of carcinoid syndrome, which is discussed later.

The important characteristic of carcinoid tumors that sets them apart from other gastrointestinal tract tumors is their potential to cause the carcinoid syndrome. Most other gastrointestinal tract tumors (such as colon cancers or small bowel lymphomas) cause symptoms primarily due to their local effects on the intestines such as abdominal pain, intestinal bleeding, and intestinal obstruction. Although carcinoid tumors may also cause these local symptoms, they may also produce and release hormones that cause the carcinoid syndrome. Often, symptoms of the carcinoid syndrome can be more devastating than the local symptoms.

Return to Carcinoid Syndrome and Carcinoid Tumor

See what others are saying

Comment from: Live well, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 28

Four years ago I got symptoms of carcinoid tumor, but doctors could not find it. My weight want down to 75 pounds and I was dying. My doctor put me on 150mg of testosterone a week and dose of estrogen and progesterone cream depending on the time of month. I was good for two years than he took me off and it all came back. Now I am back on everything and doing good. My weight is 140.

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Comment from: MZ, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 27

When I was 31 I had what I thought was an appendix attach and it turned out a carcinoid tumor had enlarged my appendix. All was removed but the cancer institute monitored me for a few years. I recently (now 54 years) have been experiencing flushing, constant constipation with lower right side pain. I will be getting my doctor to test for another carcinoid.

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