What is carcinoid syndrome?

Carcinoid syndrome is a group of symptoms linked to carcinoid tumors. Carcinoid tumors are neuroendocrine tumors that can grow in the gastrointestinal (GI) system and lungs. Only about 10% of people who have carcinoid tumors end up having carcinoid syndrome. It can occur when a carcinoid tumor has spread to the liver and releases too many hormones in the body. These hormones cause the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome.

What are the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome?

Symptoms of carcinoid symptom include:

  • Flushing or redness in the face, neck, or chest
  • Diarrhea
  • Wheezing
  • Low blood pressure, or changes in blood pressure
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Pain or aches in the joints

How is carcinoid syndrome treated?

The main treatment for carcinoid syndrome is to remove the tumor and as much of the cancer that has spread to the liver as possible. Other treatments may include:

  • Injecting drugs directly into the liver to destroy the tumor
  • Hormone injections to help control symptoms
  • Other medicines, such as anti-diarrheal drugs to help with symptoms

What are the risk factors for carcinoid syndrome?

Carcinoid syndrome only affects people who have a carcinoid tumor. Risk factors for carcinoid tumors include:

  • A family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1)
  • A family history of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1)
  • Having a condition that affects the amount of stomach acid your stomach makes, such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome or atrophic gastritis
  • A family history of tuberous sclerosis complex or von Hippel Lindau disease