Overview

Carcinoid tumors, also called neuroendocrine tumors, are a slow-growing cancer that grow from neuroendocrine cells. Neuroendocrine cells are found throughout the body. Carcinoid tumors most often begin in the digestive tract, particularly in the stomach, appendix, small intestine, colon or rectum or even in the lungs. During the initial stage of the disease there are no signs or symptoms, however tumors have the ability to produce and secrete hormones in the body, which causes symptoms like diarrhea or flushing of skin.

Surgery and medications are the treatment options for carcinoid tumors.

Symptoms

Carcinoid tumor are usually undetectable by sign and symptoms. However, sign and symptoms depends on type of hormone released by tumor and the location tumor cells have grown.

Symptoms of Carcinoid tumors in the lungs

  • Chest pain
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath), wheezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin flushing on your face and neck
  • Weight gain
  • Appearance of purple or pink marks on the skin

Symptoms of Carcinoid tumors in the digestive tract

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea, vomiting and unable to defecate because of the bowel obstruction
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Rectal pain
  • Facial flushing

In case of experiencing any persistent symptoms that may be concerning, consulting a doctor is recommended.

Causes

The causes of carcinoid tumors are unclear. Cancers in general arise from the development of cell mutations in its DNA. The mutations lead to cell growth and division when normal cells die. A buildup of the cells causes a tumor to form.
Cancer cells attack healthy tissues surrounding the area, spreading to other parts of the body.

Carcinoid tumors arise in neuroendocrine cells found in multiple organs, responsible for producing hormones and control the secretions of digestive juices.

Risk factors

  • Aging: Elderly are more prone to develop carcinoid tumors.
  • Gender: Females are at a higher chance of developing the disease.
  • Family history: Family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1) raises the risk of carcinoid tumors. Patients with this disease tend to have numerous tumors growing in endocrine glands.