Carcinoid Tumor
A carcinoid tumor is a rare cancer of the neuroendocrine system (a system of the nerve cells that also produces hormones in the body). The tumor grows in the following organs such as the appendix, bowels, lungs, and more.

The survival rate for a carcinoid tumor depends on the stage of the tumor at the time of its diagnosis. Overall, the survival rates for carcinoid tumors have been observed to be good. Because they are often found at an earlier stage, it is easier to treat them.

The survival rate is analyzed in a large study, in which the lifespan of a large population, after the diagnosis of cancer, is observed for a specific timeframe. It is generally presented as a five-year survival rate—what percentage of people lived for at least five years after the diagnosis.

For example, the five-year survival rate (as shown in Table 1) for tumor limited only to the specific organ (localized tumor) is 97%. This means that 97 of 100 people who were diagnosed with carcinoid tumors could live for at least five years or more.

Table 1: Five-year relative survival rates for carcinoid tumors of the digestive system
*SEER StageFive-Year Relative Survival Rate
Localized97%
Regional94%
Distant67%
All SEER stages combined94%

*SEER Stage: Stage of the tumor as determined by the Surveillance, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI); Digestive system: the stomach, small intestine, colon, appendix, cecum, and rectum; Reginal: Tumor that has spread to the adjacent lymph nodes; Distant: Tumor that has spread to the distant organs.

Carcinoid tumors of the lung generally have better survival outcomes than other forms of lung cancers. They have an overall 5-year survival rate of 78-95% and a 10-year survival rate of 77-90%.

If the lung carcinoid tumor has spread to the lymph nodes, five-year survival rates can range from 37 to 80%.

Life expectancy is not good for the carcinoid tumor that has spread to other organs of the body.

What is a carcinoid tumor?

A carcinoid tumor is a rare cancer of the neuroendocrine system (a system of the nerve cells that also produces hormones in the body). It is usually a slow-growing tumor.

The tumor grows in the following organs:

  • Appendix (common)
  • Bowels (common)
  • Lungs (common)
  • Stomach
  • Pancreas
  • Breast
  • Kidney
  • Ovaries
  • Testicles 

Carcinoid syndrome” is the advanced form of the carcinoid tumor. It is a term given for a set of symptoms that develop when the carcinoid tumor spreads to other organs and releases hormones such as serotonin that lead to hormonal imbalance.

What are the signs and symptoms of a carcinoid tumor?

The signs and symptoms produced by the tumor depend upon the organ on which the tumor has developed. As they are fair general, they can be easily mistaken for illnesses other than the tumor. Hence, the doctor will take your complete medical history and order various tests before diagnosing the carcinoid tumor.

It is also possible that you may have a carcinoid tumor with no signs and symptoms. For example, in a carcinoid tumor of the appendix, the doctor might discover it during surgery a such as removal of the appendix.

Table 2: Symptoms as per the location of the carcinoid tumor
Location of the carcinoid tumorSigns and symptoms
Bowel 

Abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and bleeding from the rectum

Lung 

Cough, blood in the cough, breathlessness, chest pain, and fatigue

Stomach 

Stomach pain, weight loss, tiredness, and weakness

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What causes carcinoid tumors?

Doctors do not know the exact cause of carcinoid tumors. However, they have found out some factors that may increase your chances of developing one. These include:

Can second cancers develop after carcinoid tumor treatment?

Unfortunately, you may develop other cancers (known as secondary cancers) unrelated to the carcinoid tumor even after you get treated for the carcinoid tumor. 

As a survivor of a lung carcinoid tumor, you have a higher risk of

A carcinoid tumor of the digestive system puts you at a higher risk of

Can you lower your risk of second cancer?

A step like quitting tobacco certainly helps in lowering the risk of secondary cancer after treatment for a carcinoid tumor. This is true not only for lung carcinoid tumors specifically but also for carcinoid tumors in other organs.

To help maintain good health, you, as a carcinoid survivor, need to

  • Keep your weight under check.
  • Stay physically active every day.
  • Consume a healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods, fatty foods, and sugar.
  • Restrict the consumption of alcoholic drinks (one drink per day for women or two per day for men).

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Medically Reviewed on 12/8/2020
References
Survival Rates for Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/gastrointestinal-carcinoid-tumor/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html

Carcinoid Lung Tumors. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/426400-overview#a2

Carcinoid Tumor. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/986050-overview