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Cancer Health Center

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Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Metastatic Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors


Although the response of carcinoid tumors to external-beam radiation therapy is very limited, palliative radiation therapy has some efficacy for bone and brain metastases and in the management of spinal cord metastases.[4]

Treatment with single-agent chemotherapy or multiple-agent chemotherapy appears to be of little benefit in the management of GI carcinoids because no regimen has shown objective tumor response rates greater than 15%.[4]

Treatment with radionuclides such as 131I-MIBG and 177Lu-octreotate may be of benefit. (Refer to the Radionuclides section of the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for more information.)

Somatostatin analogs and interferon-alpha are the primary agents used in the treatment of carcinoid syndrome. (Refer to the Somatostatin Analogs section and Interferons section of the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for more information.) Management of the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome may also include dietary modification and the use of various antidiarrheal agents, antihistaminics for skin rashes, and theophylline or beta-2 adrenergic receptor agonists for bronchospasm. (Refer to the Symptomatic Therapy section of the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for more information.)

Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with metastatic gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Läuffer JM, Zhang T, Modlin IM: Review article: current status of gastrointestinal carcinoids. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 13 (3): 271-87, 1999.
  2. McEntee GP, Nagorney DM, Kvols LK, et al.: Cytoreductive hepatic surgery for neuroendocrine tumors. Surgery 108 (6): 1091-6, 1990.
  3. Plöckinger U, Rindi G, Arnold R, et al.: Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of neuroendocrine gastrointestinal tumours. A consensus statement on behalf of the European Neuroendocrine Tumour Society (ENETS). Neuroendocrinology 80 (6): 394-424, 2004.
  4. Modlin IM, Latich I, Kidd M, et al.: Therapeutic options for gastrointestinal carcinoids. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 4 (5): 526-47, 2006.
  5. Hodul P, Malafa M, Choi J, et al.: The role of cytoreductive hepatic surgery as an adjunct to the management of metastatic neuroendocrine carcinomas. Cancer Control 13 (1): 61-71, 2006.
  6. Sarmiento JM, Heywood G, Rubin J, et al.: Surgical treatment of neuroendocrine metastases to the liver: a plea for resection to increase survival. J Am Coll Surg 197 (1): 29-37, 2003.
  7. Givi B, Pommier SJ, Thompson AK, et al.: Operative resection of primary carcinoid neoplasms in patients with liver metastases yields significantly better survival. Surgery 140 (6): 891-7; discussion 897-8, 2006.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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