Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumors
Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) can develop anywhere in the body, but typically appear in the appendix, lungs, small intestine, pancreas, and rectum. A rare type of tumor, they can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Neuroendocrine tumors can cause symptoms—which may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, heartburn, and weight changes—either by secreting chemicals or by growing so large they intrude on healthy tissues.
Neuroendocrine tumors have been called “cancers in slow motion” due to their slow rate of growth. Even though these tumors have the potential to be fatal, those afflicted with NETs typically live for many years and sometimes for a normal lifetime.
Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor that typically originates in the digestive tract. Some people may not notice symptoms of carcinoid tumors, while others could experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, flushing skin, rectal pain, or rectal bleeding. Carcinoid tumors also have the potential to cause bowel obstructions or metastasize to other parts of the body.
Diagnosis of Carcinoid and Related Neuroendocrine Tumors
Carcinoid and related neuroendocrine tumors are diagnosed based on symptoms, blood work, and radiology tests that may include x-ray, CT scans, MRI, ultrasound, and isotope. Considering that over 90 percent of all carcinoid and related neuroendocrine tumors are incorrectly diagnosed, and therefore treated inappropriately, it is crucial to see a specialist skilled in the care of this tumor type.
Treatments for Carcinoid and Related Neuroendocrine Tumors
At present, the only cure for a carcinoid tumor or any other neuroendocrine tumor is the surgical removal of the tumor. If removing the entire tumor isn’t an option, it’s often possible to remove critically situated tumor tissue in order to relieve symptoms.
For cases in which surgery can’t be done or is only partially effective, a wide range of other therapies is available. Treatment options include radiation, hormonal drugs, isotopes, and multiple types of targeted personalized chemotherapies.
Mount Sinai’s Center for Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumors is home to a skilled team of specialists with extensive knowledge in the diagnosis and treatment of NET disorders. Our multidisciplinary approach brings experts in surgery, nuclear medicine, cardiology, pulmonology, oncology, hematology, radiology, pathology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, and nutrition together to ensure each of our patients receives the best possible care.