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This rare cancer is a type of neuroendocrine tumor that could appear in various parts of the body. Carcinoid tumors affect the cells in your body that make hormones. They might start in your lungs or digestive system, or in the testicles or ovaries. The good news is, these tumors tend to grow very slowly.

What are the symptoms of carcinoids?
Many times, there are no symptoms at all. If there are symptoms, they vary widely depending on the location of the tumor. If it is in your digestive tract, you may have symptoms such as digestive upset, weight loss and blood in the stool. A lung carcinoid may cause symptoms such as coughing. Over time, as a carcinoid tumor progresses, you may have symptoms related to hormone disruption, such as flushing, weakness, weight loss, abnormal hair growth on face and body, diarrhea and a faster heartbeat. In some circumstances, heart valve disease and congestive heart failure may develop.

How are carcinoids diagnosed?
Many times, carcinoids will be diagnosed by accident during medical care for other conditions. If your doctor suspects a carcinoid tumor, however, you may receive blood and urine tests to check for substances that carcinoid tumors release, or you may have a direct examination of the part of the body that the tumor is expected to be in. For example, you may have a colonoscopy to check for a tumor in your colon. Other tests may include a CT scan, an MRI, X-ray, radionuclide scanning or other imaging tests.

What are the treatments for carcinoids?
This will vary greatly, depending on the location of your tumor. However, surgery is usually the first choice. Radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy are also possible treatments.

What are the risk factors for carcinoids?
Sometimes, this cancer has a genetic link. If you have neurofibromatosis type 1, or multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, you’re at higher risk. African-Americans are at higher risk than Caucasians, and women are at higher risk than men. This cancer most commonly affects those middle-aged or older.

What are some additional resources for learning about carcinoids?
If you or your loved one is facing carcinoids, CalvertHealth has a whole range of services designed to help you so you never take this journey alone. Please talk to your CalvertHealth provider or your Nurse Navigator, or check the service pages for information about treatments, services and support groups.
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