Last Updated on Mar 14, 2016

Treatment For Carcinoid Tumors And Carcinoid Syndrome

Surgical removal is most effective when a carcinoid tumor and for symptoms Octreotide is a commonly used drug.

Earlier the diagnosis better is the outcome. Treatment is primarily aimed at treating the symptoms and reducing the size of tumors.

Treatment of symptoms

The hormone Somatostatin can prevent the flushing and other endocrine symptoms of the carcinoid syndrome. Drugs with the action of this hormone (termed somatostatin analogues) are hence effective in preventing symptoms in affected patients. Octreotide is a commonly used drug for this purpose. It decreases diarrhoea, flushing and urinary 5-HIAA levels.

Surgery

Surgical removal is most effective when a carcinoid tumor is restricted to a specific area, such as the appendix, small intestine, rectum, or lungs. If the tumor has spread to the liver, operative removal may not completely cure the disease; but symptomatic relief can be achieved. The neoplasm is a slowly progressing one; hence the effective reduction in tumor mass can ameliorate morbidity and improve the quality of life even after metastases have occurred. Metastasis refers to the spread of the tumor to parts away from the site of origin, the liver being the typical site. If the liver has started to harbour a carcinoid tumor, hepatic artery embolization may be helpful. It may only relieve symptoms, or slow down the growth of the tumor; a complete cure may not be possible with this technique. Here the blood flow to cancer cells is blocked by plugging the arteries supplying them.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy with single or combination drugs have been found to be of little benefit. Chemotherapy drugs like alpha interferon (interferon-á) do help in adjunctive therapy.

References:

  1. Cecil Medicine, 23rd Ed.
  2. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th Ed

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