Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Carcinoid Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Carcinoid syndrome is a group of symptoms that result from a rare type of tumor called a carcinoid tumor. This tumor grows slowly, starting most often in cells that line the digestive tract or lung.

Carcinoid syndrome occurs in fewer than 20% of those with a carcinoid tumor. The symptoms of carcinoid syndrome can affect many different parts of your body. You can take steps to improve these symptoms.

Recommended Related to Cancer

General Information About Adult Primary Liver Cancer

Adult primary liver cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the liver. The liver is one of the largest organs in the body. It has four lobes and fills the upper right side of the abdomen inside the rib cage. Three of the many important functions of the liver are: To filter harmful substances from the blood so they can be passed from the body in stools and urine. To make bile to help digest fat that comes from food. To store glycogen (sugar), which...

Read the General Information About Adult Primary Liver Cancer article > >

Causes of Carcinoid Syndrome

Doctors don't know very much about what causes carcinoid tumors. You may be at greater risk if you:

  • Are African-American
  • Have a certain genetic syndrome
  • Have a condition that affects the stomach's ability to produce acid

Carcinoid syndrome results when a carcinoid tumor is advanced and releases large amounts of hormonal substances such as serotonin or other substances.

Symptoms of Carcinoid Syndrome

In many cases, carcinoid tumors often cause no symptoms. In advanced cases, when the tumor has spread, the increased release of hormonal substances can cause a diverse set of symptoms. These may include:

Other symptoms -- such as abdominal pain or intestinal bleeding -- may also depend on the location of the carcinoid tumor. Symptoms may worsen over time as a result of complications, such as damage to heart valves, leading to shortness of breath and heart murmur.

To diagnose a carcinoid tumor, your doctor will ask you about your history of symptoms, perform a physical exam, and order lab tests, imaging tests or scans, and an endoscopy to confirm a diagnosis or help locate a carcinoid tumor.

Factors such as stress, infection, drugs, alcohol, or certain medical procedures can trigger symptoms.

Seek immediate medical care if you have severe symptoms, because this may signal life-threatening carcinoid crisis. Severe symptoms include:

Treatment for Carcinoid Syndrome

The type of treatment your doctor suggests depends on many factors. These include your symptoms and the location and size of the tumor or tumors.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article