What You Need to Know about Carcinoid Tumors: Causes, Symptoms, and Health
Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor that originates in the digestive tract and lungs. Although they are rare, they are closely related to other types of cancer and can spread to other parts of the body. It’s important to understand carcinoid tumors, their causes, symptoms, and health effects.
What are Carcinoid Tumors?
Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor found in the digestive tract and the lungs. They start in the neuroendocrine cells which release hormones into the bloodstream. These hormone-releasing cells live in the lungs, appendix, small intestine, rectum and large intestine.
Causes of Carcinoid Tumors
The exact cause of carcinoid tumors is unknown but there are certain risk factors, such as exposure to environmental pollutants or radiation, that may increase the risk. Genetic conditions such as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) and von Hippel-Lindau disease can also increase the risk for developing a carcinoid tumor.
Symptoms of Carcinoid Tumors
The most common symptoms of carcinoid tumors include skin flushing, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, and digestive problems. Carcinoid tumors also cause the excessive release of a hormone called serotonin. High levels of serotonin can cause mental confusion and severe headaches.
Health Effects of Carcinoid Tumors
If left untreated, carcinoid tumors can spread to other parts of the body, often the liver or lungs, and cause serious health problems. They can also cause hormonal imbalances and can even affect the heart.
Treatment for Carcinoid Tumors
Treatment depends on the size and location of the tumor. Generally, surgery is used to remove the tumor and the surrounding tissue, while chemotherapy and radiation are used to kill any remaining cancer cells. If the tumor has spread, targeted therapy drugs can be used to slow the growth of the tumor.
Carcinoid tumors are a type of rare but serious tumor. It’s important to understand the causes, symptoms, and potential health effects in order to seek treatment if necessary. If you have any of these symptoms or have any of the risk factors for carcinoid tumors, contact your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan.