MD Anderson’s Gastrointestinal Center gives you exemplary, customized carcinoid tumor care every step of the way. Our specialized teams of experts collaborate and communicate with each other – and with you – to ensure the most-advanced treatments with the least impact on your body. And they have at their fingertips the latest innovative technology and methods to diagnose and treat carcinoid tumors, including specialized diagnostic methods and surgical techniques, and targeted therapies.
As one of the nation’s largest cancer centers, MD Anderson sees more patients with this complex type of cancer than most others. This gives us extraordinary expertise and experience, which translates into higher rates of successful outcomes for carcinoid tumors.
And at MD Anderson you’re surrounded by the strength of one of the nation’s largest and most experienced comprehensive cancer centers, which has all the support and wellness services needed to treat the whole person – not just the disease.
As one of the world’s largest cancer research centers, MD Anderson is leading the investigation into new methods of carcinoid tumor diagnosis and treatment. For instance, our researchers are studying carcinoid tumors on a molecular basis to try to find a cause.
Our status as a premier research center means we can offer clinical trials (research studies) of new treatments for carcinoid tumors. MD Anderson researchers have led the development of novel treatment strategies, including targeting of mTOR (a protein) and angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels) in neuroendocrine tumors (including carcinoid tumors). MD Anderson researchers were involved from proof-of-concept single institution phase II to multi-national phase III studies.
Carcinoid tumors usually do not have symptoms in the early stages. If you have symptoms, they may include:
In about 1% of cases, carcinoid tumors can spread to the liver. This may cause a group of symptoms called carcinoid syndrome.
Symptoms of carcinoid syndrome usually are vague. It may be diagnosed first as other similar and more common conditions. Symptoms may not be present all the time. They may be brought on or made worse by certain foods, activities or medical procedures. If you have signs of carcinoid syndrome may include:
These symptoms do not always mean you have a carcinoid tumor. However, it is important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor, since they may signal other health problems.
Since carcinoid tumors grow slowly and often do not cause symptoms in the early stages, they can be challenging to diagnose. Many times, they are found during surgery or treatment for another condition, such as appendicitis. Even in advanced stages, this type of cancer often is misdiagnosed.
If your doctor suspects you have a carcinoid tumor or if one has been found during another procedure, the first step will be a thorough physical exam and medical history. Your doctor will ask questions about your general health, your medical history and your family history, and your smoking habits.
Tests to diagnose a carcinoid tumor or find out if it has spread may include one or more of the following. These tests also may be used to find out if treatment is working.
Blood and urine tests, which may include:
Imaging tests, which may include:
Biopsy: Methods to biopsy carcinoid tumors include:
At MD Anderson, your treatment for carcinoid tumor is personalized especially for you. A team of experts including oncologists, surgical oncologists, pathologists and others collaborate and communicate about your options before and during your therapy. Most carcinoid tumors grow slowly, and they often can be treated successfully.
As one of the nation’s most active cancer centers, we see a higher level of patients with carcinoid tumors than many oncologists or centers. This gives us extraordinary expertise and experience in treating this complex type of cancer. We use advanced approaches to ensure the most-advanced treatment with the least impact your body.
If surgery is required for a carcinoid tumor, it is important to choose a specialist with the highest possible level of skill and experience. This helps increase your odds for successful treatment. At MD Anderson, our surgeons are among the most experienced in the nation, with some of the best outcomes.
If you are diagnosed with a carcinoid tumor, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including:
Surgery is often the best option for small carcinoid tumors that have not spread. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used to shrink tumors, although they often may not be successful. Other treatment methods, including internal radiation therapy and biologic therapy, are being tested. Your treatment for carcinoid tumor will be customized to your particular needs. One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.
Cancer screening exams are important medical tests done when you’re at risk but don’t have symptoms. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for successful treatment are highest. Unfortunately, no standardized screening tests have been shown to improve carcinoid tumor outcomes.
Anything that increases your chance of getting a carcinoid tumor is a risk factor. These include:
Not everyone with risk factors gets carcinoid tumors. However, if you have risk factors, you should discuss them with your doctor.