Carcinoid tumors are slow-growing, rare cancers in which malignant cells arise from certain hormone-producing cells of the body. While carcinoid tumors can be found throughout the whole body, most are located in the digestive system and are referred to as gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors. Others can occur in the respiratory tract. Carcinoid tumors often do not present any symptoms and they may be found during other tests or procedures.
The malignant cells in these tumors sometimes continue to produce multiple hormones. In about 10% of people with these tumors, high amounts of those hormones are released into the bloodstream. These high levels of hormones cause symptoms throughout the body, such as facial flushing, wheezing, diarrhea, and a fast heartbeat. These symptoms are often grouped together and called the carcinoid syndrome.
Carcinoid Tumors Stages
Once a carcinoid tumor is found, more tests will be done to find out if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. The following general stages are used to classify gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors:
- Localized. The cancer is found in the appendix, the colon or rectum, the small intestine, or stomach, but it has not spread to other parts of the body.
- Regional. Cancer has spread from the appendix, colon or rectum, stomach, or small intestine to nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
- Metastatic. Cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
A person is said to have recurrent disease if the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may come back in the first place it was found or in another part of the body.
Who Is More At Risk
According to the American Cancer Society, about 11,000-12,000 carcinoid tumors are diagnosed each year in the United States. Most of these (75%) are gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors.
The age of people with carcinoid tumors ranges from 10 to 93 years, with a mean age at onset of 63 years for carcinoids of the small intestine and respiratory tract, and 66 years for those of the rectum.
Factors that may increase a person's risk of developing gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors include:
- Family history: A family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 1 (MEN 1), a hereditary condition that increases the risk of developing tumors of certain hormone-producing glands.
- Race and gender: Carcinoid tumors are more common among African Americans than whites, and more common among women than men.
- Other stomach conditions: Certain diseases that damage the stomach and reduce stomach acid production may increase the risk of developing carcinoid tumors of the stomach.
However, a person may develop a gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor and not have any of these risk factors.
For more information about carcinoid cancer, visit Carcinoid Link
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