Carcinoid cancer is a type of neuroendocrine cancer that grows from neuroendocrine cells. Neuroendocrine cells are found in organs throughout the body. These cells send and receive messages through hormones to help the body function. Carcinoid tumors grow very slowly.

 In children and adults, carcinoid cancers are often found in the appendix, called appendiceal carcinoid tumors, and in the lungs, called bronchial tumors. In adults, carcinoid tumors are frequently found in the digestive tract. This tumor may spread to other parts of the body but more frequently occurs in adults than in children.1

There are main types of carcinoid cancer:1

  • Slow-growing cancer- These tumors are the most common type and they usually remain small, grow quickly, or spread to other areas of the body.
  • Faster-growing cancer- It may grow more rapidly, grow larger, and spread.
  • Hormone-secreting cancer- These functioning carcinoid tumors produce hormones including serotonin and cause the symptoms of cancers.

Carcinoid tumors are rare, making up one-half of 1% of all cancers and the average age of onset is the early 60s. 2

Carcinoid cancer symptoms and signs: 3,4

The signs and symptoms of carcinoid cancer depend on which chemicals the carcinoid cancer secretes into the bloodstream. The common sign and symptoms of carcinoid cancer are as follows:

  • Skin flushing
  • The skin turns pink, red, or purple
  • Facial skin lesions
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sudden drops in blood pressure
  • Abdominal pain or pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Weight loss

Risk factors for Carcinoid cancer:3,5

  • Age: Adults are more likely to be diagnosed with carcinoid cancer.
  • Sex: Women are more found than men to develop carcinoid tumors.
  • Family history. A family history of multiple endocrine neoplasias, type 1 (MEN 1), increases the risk of carcinoid tumors. In people with MEN 1, multiple tumors occur in glands of the endocrine system.
  • Race: African Americans.
  • Genetic syndromes: In these includes, Tuberous sclerosis complexes, Von Hippel Lindau disease, and Familial small intestinal neuroendocrine tumor.
  • Tumors of the stomach: Atrophic gastritis, Pernicious anemia, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome


The cells of carcinoid cancers may secrete hormones and other chemicals, causing complications that include:

Carcinoid syndrome: Carcinoid syndrome causes redness or a feeling of warmth in the face and neck (skin flushing), chronic diarrhea, and difficulty in breathing.

Carcinoid heart disease: Carcinoid tumors may secrete hormones that can cause the thickening of the lining of heart chambers, valves, and blood vessels. This can lead to leaky heart valves and heart failure that may require valve replacement surgery.

Cushing syndrome: A lung carcinoid tumor can produce an excess of a hormone that can cause the body to produce too much of the hormone cortisol.


Cancer prevention is an action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. In general, one can lower their chances of Carcinoid cancer with some key lifestyle choices:

Quit smoke-tobacco: Smoking and chewing tobacco have been linked to carcinoid cancer. Avoid tobacco in all forms, including secondhand smoke.

Changes in diet and Lifestyle: Reduce the consumption of saturated fat and red meat which may increase the risk of cancer. In diet includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Finding precancerous conditions:  Early Precancerous conditions are conditions that may become cancerous.

Get regular medical care: Regular medical check-ups and screenings for cancer may increase the chances of discovering cancer early and that time treatment is most likely to be successful.

Treatment for Carcinoid cancer: 7

The best treatment for carcinoid cancers that have not spread is surgery. Surgery for these tumors can cure them. Some common carcinoid cancer treatments are as follows:

Partial surgery: The tumor is too big to take out completely, surgery may be used to remove part of it so that other treatments may work better.

Chemotherapy: Medicines that fight carcinoid tumor cells may be given into the bloodstream or taken by mouth. Usually, it is best to give several of these medicines in combination.

Octreotide: The type of medicine that is given by injection. This medicine helps control the symptoms of carcinoid tumors and may also block or reverse tumor growth.

Liver treatment: If a carcinoid tumor has spread into the liver, chemotherapy medicines may be injected into the liver, or small pellets may be injected that block blood flow to the tumor cells.

The month of November is dedicated to raising carcinoid cancer awareness, the most common type of neuroendocrine tumor. 8 The main goal of Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Month is to make aware the public of the different types of carcinoid cancer, their risk factors, ways to prevent them, new developments in therapy, and the current survival rate of those who have it. According to the International Neuroendocrine Cancer Alliance, the symptom of carcinoid cancer awareness is the key to earlier diagnoses, which can in turn save lives. Therefore, it becomes very important to aware Indians of carcinoid cancers and their preventive measures. 9


  1. Carcinoid Tumor Available at: Assessed on 15th October 2022.
  2. What should people know about carcinoid tumors? Available at: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/ Assessed on 15th October 2022.
  3. Carcinoid syndrome. Available at: Assessed on 15th October 2022.
  4. Carcinoid Tumor. Available at: Assessed on 15th October 2022.
  5. Carcinoid syndrome risk factors. Available at: Assessed on 15th October 2022.
  6. Neuroendocrine Tumors (Carcinoid)- Prevention. Available at: Assessed on 15th October 2022.
  7. Carcinoid Tumor. Available at: Assessed on 15th October 2022.
  8. November Is Carcinoid Tumor Awareness Month. Available at: Assessed on 15th October 2022.
  9. Recognizing Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Month. Available at: Assessed on 15th October 2022.

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