Carcinoid cancer, while it's real, isn't quite fully understood as well as most other types of cancer. The most common cancers, such as breast, lung, brain, throat and prostate, get the most attention, which in turns creates a gap in understanding carcinoid cancer and the disease as a whole.
- What Is carcinoid cancer? Carcinoid cancer is the abnormal growth of organic tissues connected by the neuroendocrine system. This refers to the set of organs and body parts that are stimulated simultaneously by hormones, which are part of the endocrine system. This set of organs is responsible for maintaining homeostasis, which regulates and processes information and relays them to the body. Cancers that occur in these tissues are often potent, take very long to grow and are asymptomatic until it grown beyond an isolated level.
- Where are carcinoid cancerous tumors found? Because of the nature of how carcinoid cancer affects the body, tumors are typically found in areas of the body that are sensitive to hormone changes or neurotransmitters and secret substances such as enzymes. Organs like the small intestine, the pancreas, the colon and the lungs (the exception) are the majority of places these tumors are found. Because the gastrointestinal tract is constantly responding to changes in order to digest and process food, having carcinoid cancer can be a very dangerous thing.
- What are some symptoms? The main problem with this type of cancer is that the disorder is regarded as asymptomatic until the tumors grow sufficiently larger than benign levels. This means that a person can go for a very long time without even knowing there is a problem. The other more difficult thing about this cancer is that the symptoms can appear as many other types of disorders. This carcinoid syndrome includes symptoms such as facial flushing, diarrhea, problematic breathing, spontaneous rapid heartbeat and more. Because these symptoms are so general, the tumors may not even be found and if they are; it's most likely discovered during a test for some other condition.
- Treatment options. If the cancerous tumors are found in earlier stages, it makes it much easier to remove them surgically, as they are small and have probably not metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body. However, if found later on as a result of carcinoid syndrome, an oncologist may have to discuss alternative treatment options in addition to surgery, such as chemotherapy and radiation, which use harmful chemicals and radiation to kill off any good cells that can be turned into cancerous ones.