Carcinoid syndrome is the name given to a group of symptoms that people experience if they have carcinoid tumours. These are rare and often slow-growing tumours that occur in the small intestine, colon, appendix and lungs. Most people have never heard of carcinoid tumours, so there is little awareness of the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome, or how it is treated. Fortunately, for most people affected by this rare form of cancer, treating the carcinoid tumour itself can reduce or control many of the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome.
This article on the treatment of carcinoid syndrome is by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
What causes carcinoid syndrome?
The symptoms of carcinoid syndrome are caused by carcinoid tumours releasing hormones into the bloodstream. These tumours tend to be small and yellow and have well defined edges. They crop up along the digestive tract, being most common in the appendix, rectum and small intestine, although they can occur in the lungs in some people.
The tumours form from cells that were original part of the neuroendocrine system – this system is responsible from producing the hormone serotonin. When they grow out of control, the tumours over produce serotonin, which is released into the body where it creates havoc with body systems. Fortunately, carcinoid syndrome occurs in only 10% of people with carcinoid tumours, usually after the tumour has spread to the liver or lung.