Carcinoid tumors are slow-growing malignancies that form in the ileum, appendix and rectum. These tumors release significant amounts of normal body chemicals such as histamine, serotonin, bradykinin and prostaglandins. Individuals with high levels of these chemicals might have carcinoid tumors.
Individuals with carcinoid tumors might have no symptoms and not aware of having the disease. The indications only develop after the tumor has spread and might include the following:
- Erratic heartbeat
- Flushing of the face and neck
- Low blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Management of carcinoid tumors
There are various methods in managing carcinoid tumors including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and even drug therapy.
The main treatment for carcinoid tumors is surgery that involves the removal of the tumors such as appendectomy, resection, local excision, fulguration, cryosurgery and radiofrequency ablation.
This therapy involves drugs to eliminate or slow down the growth of the cancer cells. The drugs are given orally or injected into the muscle or vein.
Radiation in high levels is used to eliminate the cancer cells or prevent them from spreading while reducing damage to the healthy cells. The radiation is administered by a specialized equipment that directs the radiation from outside the body (external radiation). Another approach is internal radiation where it comes from an implant which is a small-sized container of radioactive material that is placed into or close to the tumor.
Biologic therapy utilizes the immune system of the body to eliminate the cancer cells. This approach is used to fix, stimulate or enhance the function of the immune system to fight the cancer cells.
If drug therapy is used, octreotide can be given which works by binding to the carcinoid cells and lowers the production of serotonin and other chemicals.