Carcinoid Tumors In The Lungs – A Snapshot

Most carcinoid tumors appear in the intestines; however, a quarter of them show up in the lungs as well. Read on to learn more about this variant and the protocols used to fight it.

Carcinoid tumors are not a well-understood carcinoma. They consist of abnormally multiplying neuroendocrine cells that may secrete hormones and neurotransmitters, therefore, giving rise to unusual symptoms. Tumors of this variety are typically slow evolving and often stay contained in one region of the body without metastasizing. While it is rare for such malignancies to grow in the lungs, 3 out of 10 cases are found in this region.

Risk Factors:

Unlike other malignancies that take root in the lungs, these tumors are not linked to smoking or prolonged exposure to pollutants. A few factors do increase an individual’s risk of developing such a condition. These include:

  1. Race – Caucasians are found to be more prone to this illness than others.
  2. Genetics – Those who suffer from a genetic anomaly known as MEN1 have higher chances of falling prey to this condition
  3. Age – Those in the age group of 45-55 are at a higher risk

Symptoms:

Since the progress of such tumors is slow, it is common to not notice any unusual signs at all for quite some time. People often find out about such growths as a matter of chance, when they get tests like a chest X-ray done for some other pulmonary problems. The extent to which a tumor has grown determines the type and intensity of the symptoms. A significantly large growth may produce the following effects:

  1. Coughing
  2. Wheezing
  3. Phlegm marked with streaks of blood
  4. Difficulty in breathing especially if the growth blocks an airway
  5. Pneumonia

Additionally, if the malignancy is causing excessive production of hormones, it may trigger these effects:

  1. A constant flushed look especially on the face and the chest
  2. Weakness
  3. An increase in the amount of body hair
  4. Diarrhea
  5. A sudden increase in body weight
  6. Rapid heartbeat

Treatment Options:

  1. Surgical Intervention – Surgical excision is most effective. Based on the positioning of the tumor as well as its size, surgeons may decide the best possible way to extract it. In some rare advanced cases, they may remove an entire lung while in others they may excise either a small segment of the lungs or portions of an airway.
  2. Chemotherapy – While chemotherapy is not very effective when it comes to treating such tumors, it is still an option when the mass is unresectable.
  3. Systemic Treatments – If the tumor is secreting hormones that are causing unbearable symptoms, doctors prescribe medications like Octreotide along with radiation therapy which can help tone these down.
  4. Fluid Buildup Management Techniques – If there is an excessive accumulation of fluid that is making breathing difficult, physicians opt for procedures that help drain it. These include thoracentesis, pleurodesis, and placement of a catheter.
  5. Radiation Therapy – For those with unremovable malignancies, radiation therapy is an option. This protocol is also put into action after surgery in some cases.

For more information on various types of cancers and their treatments, please visit our website – Advanced Cancer Treatment Centers

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