Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors

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Treating Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors TOPICS

How are gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society's Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don't hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General approach to treatment

Once a gastrointestinal (GI) carcinoid tumor is found and staged, the cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. Depending on your situation, you may have different types of doctors on your treatment team. These doctors may include:

  • A surgeon: a doctor who treats diseases with surgery.
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy.
  • A gastroenterologist: a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive system.
  • An endocrinologist: a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to hormones

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health professionals.

The main types of treatment for GI carcinoid tumors are:

In some cases, doctors may recommend combining more than one of these treatments. It is important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. Some of the factors that will influence your treatment options for a GI carcinoid tumor are:

  • Its size and location
  • Whether it has spread to lymph nodes, liver, bones, or other organs
  • Whether you have any other serious medical conditions
  • Whether the tumor is causing bothersome symptoms

Take your time and think about all of your options when you make this important decision. It is often a good idea to get a second opinion. A second opinion may give you more information and help you feel more confident about the treatment plan you choose. It’s also very important to ask questions if there is anything you’re not sure about. You can find some good questions to ask in the section “What should you ask your doctor about gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors?

The first part of this section describes the various types of treatments used for GI carcinoid tumors. This is followed by a description of the most common approaches used to treat them based on their stage and primary site.


Last Medical Review: 12/31/2013
Last Revised: 12/31/2013