Skip to main content

ACS & ASCO are Stronger Together: Cancer.Net content is now available on


Risk Factors for Lung Carcinoid Tumors

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed. Others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed.

But having a known risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And some people who get the disease may have few or no known risk factors.

Not much is known about why lung carcinoid tumors develop in some people but not in others. Risk factors for lung carcinoid tumors include:


Lung carcinoids occur more often in women than in men. The reasons for this are not known.


Lung carcinoids are more common in White people than in African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, or Latinos.


These tumors are usually found in people about 45-55 years old, which is slightly younger than the average age for other types of lung cancer. But carcinoids can occur in people of almost any age, including children and adolescents.

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1

People with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), an inherited syndrome, are at high risk for tumors in certain endocrine organs, such as the pancreas and the pituitary and parathyroid glands. These people also seem to be at increased risk for lung carcinoid tumors.

Family history

Most people with lung carcinoid tumors do not have a family history of this type of cancer, but having others in your family who had lung carcinoid tumors can increase your risk. In rare cases, several family members have been diagnosed with this cancer. The overall risk is still low because this cancer is so uncommon.

Tobacco smoke

Typical lung carcinoid tumors do not seem to be linked with smoking or with any known chemicals in the environment or workplace. But some studies have found that atypical lung carcinoids may be more common in people who smoke.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Hilal T. Current understanding and approach to well differentiated lung neuroendocrine tumors: an update on classification and management. Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology. 2017;9(3):189-199. doi:10.1177/1758834016678149.

Oliveira AM, Tazelaar HD, Wentzlaff KA, et al. Familial pulmonary carcinoid tumors. Cancer. 2001; 91:2104.

Thomas CF, Jett JR, Strosberg JR. Lung neuroendocrine (carcinoid) tumors: Epidemiology, risk factors, classification, histology, diagnosis, and staging. UpToDate website. Updated Feb. 26, 2018. Accessed July 9, 2018. 

Last Revised: August 28, 2018

American Cancer Society Emails

Sign up to stay up-to-date with news, valuable information, and ways to get involved with the American Cancer Society.