Pulmonary Carcinoid

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 8, 2013

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Question

I am looking for information on pulmonary carcinoid tumors. My brother has been diagnosed with this and we need information. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Answer

Li Liu, MD, Editorial Assistant for OncoLink, responds:

Pulmonary carcinoid tumors (PCT) are types of lung neuroendocrine tumors, cancers in which hormone-making malignant cells are found in the lung. PCT represent 1-2% of all primary lung cancers. The incidence is highest in the fifth decade of life, and there are no gender predominance or known risk factors (Mayo Clin Proc 1993 Aug;68(8):795-803). They generally arise within a major bronchus (windpipe) and present as slow-growing single polypoid masses. The majority of patients with pulmonary carcinoid tumors presents with coughing, recurrent lung infections, or cough up blood (hemoptysis). Some patients may present with "carcinoid syndrome," consisting of flushing, bronchospasms, diarrhea, and valvular heart disease (Thorax 1984 Aug;39(8):617-23). Surgical resection is the treatment of choice in the majority of patients. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy/systemic therapy are generally reserved for patients who are not surgical candidates and have symptoms, such as pain, difficulty breathing, and coughing up blood, and/or in cases when the disease has spread to other organs (metastasis). For localized pulmonary carcinoid tumors, the prognosis is excellent, with 10-year survival rates of >90% having been reported (Thorax 1984 Aug;39(8):617-23; Scand J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1991;25(3):189-94). It is best to discuss specific treatment options and prognosis with your brother's oncologists.


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