Center for Thoracic Oncology
Diseases & Conditions
At Boston Medical Center's Center for Thoracic Oncology, we treat a broad range of conditions, including tumors in the lungs called carcinoids. We combine medical excellence, technologically advanced facilities and equipment, and a patient-centered approach to provide fast, accurate diagnoses and effective treatments while maintaining only the highest level of quality and service for you and your family.
What is a Carcinoid?
A carcinoid is a rare type of tumor that can arise in the lungs—in the large airways near the center (central carcinoids) or smaller airways toward the edges (peripheral carcinoids)—and may release hormones. These tumors arise from neuroendocrine cells, cells that have both nerve and hormone-making properties. The Thoracic Oncology Center at BMC specializes in treating carcinoid lung tumors, which occur slightly more frequently in black people and in men and are most common between the ages of 45 and 55 years. Typical carcinoid tumors tend to be slow growing and rarely spread to other parts of the body. Atypical tumors can be more aggressive and spread more quickly than the typical carcinoids.
What are the Symptoms?
Carcinoid tumors often do not cause any symptoms, or not until very late in the disease. When symptoms do appear, they may include:
- A group of symptoms including upper body obesity, round face, high blood pressure, hair growth, and irregular menses in women, stemming from increased production of steroids (hormones) by the adrenal and pituitary glands
- Lasting cough
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin flushing, where the skin on your face and upper chest turns pinkish, red, or purple, and feels hot
What Causes Carcinoid Tumors?
As with many cancers, we are unsure what causes carcinoid tumors. Some research indicates that they arise from stem cells in the bronchial tubes. Family history and age may contribute to the formation of these tumors.