Carcinoid syndrome : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Definition

Carcinoid syndrome is a group of symptoms associated with carcinoid tumors — tumors of the small intestine, colon, appendix, and bronchial tubes in the lungs.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Carcinoid syndrome is the pattern of symptoms sometimes seen in people with carcinoid tumors. These tumors are rare, and often slow growing.

Carcinoid syndrome occurs only 10% of the time, usually after the tumor has spread to the liver or lung.

These tumors release too much of the hormone serotonin, as well as several other chemicals that cause the blood vessels to open (dilate).

More carcinoid tumors are being diagnosed today than in the past.

Pictures & Images

Serotonin uptake

Carcinoid syndrome is the pattern of symptoms that typically are exhibited by people with carcinoid tumors. The symptoms include bright red facial flushing, diarrhea, and occasionally wheezing. A specific type of heart valve damage can occur, as well as other cardiac problems. Carcinoid tumors secrete excessive amounts of the hormone serotonin. Surgery with complete removal of the tumor tissue is the ideal treatment. It can result in a permanent cure if it is possible to remove the tumor entirely.


Review Date : 9/4/2008
Reviewed By : Sean O. Stitham, MD, private practice in Internal Medicine, Seattle, Washington; and James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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