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Carcinoid Tumor Treatment

Our Treatment Approach

At MD Anderson, your treatment for carcinoid tumor is personalized especially for you. A team of experts including oncologists, surgical oncologists, pathologists and others collaborate and communicate about your options before and during your therapy. Most carcinoid tumors grow slowly, and they often can be treated successfully.

As one of the nation’s most active cancer centers, we see a higher level of patients with carcinoid tumors than many oncologists or centers. This gives us extraordinary expertise and experience in treating this complex type of cancer. We use advanced approaches to ensure the most-advanced treatment with the least impact your body.

If surgery is required for a carcinoid tumor, it is important to choose a specialist with the highest possible level of skill and experience. This helps increase your odds for successful treatment. At MD Anderson, our surgeons are among the most experienced in the nation, with some of the best outcomes.

Carcinoid Tumor Treatments

If you are diagnosed with a carcinoid tumor, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including:

  • The tumor’s size and where it is located
  • If the cancer has spread
  • Your general health
  • Your symptoms

Surgery is often the best option for small carcinoid tumors that have not spread. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used to shrink tumors, although they often may not be successful. Other treatment methods, including internal radiation therapy and biologic therapy, are being tested. Your treatment for carcinoid tumor will be customized to your particular needs. One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.

If you have been diagnosed with carcinoid tumors, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Advanced carcinoid tumor treatments including targeted therapies, specialized surgical techniques and octreotide therapy
  • Focused diagnostic methods including high-resolution CT scan, nuclear imaging (OctreoScan™), endoscopic ultrasound and capsule endoscopy
  • Skilled surgeons, innovative techniques
  • Team approach includes specialists with high levels of experience treating carcinoid tumors
  • Clinical trials of new carcinoid tumor treatments

Carcinoid Tumor Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

Carcinoid tumors are treated in our:

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Surgery is the most common procedure to treat carcinoid tumors. It may be used to treat the primary tumor and nearby lymph nodes where the cancer has spread. Surgery also may be done if the cancer has spread to the liver. Surgical removal of the tumor may help carcinoid syndrome symptoms. Your doctor may suggest one of these types of surgery to treat a carcinoid tumor.

Bowel and colorectal resection: Removal of the intestine and lymph nodes near the primary carcinoid tumor(s). Lymph nodes along the vessels that supply the affected intestine (called the mesentery) are removed. Removal of the mesentery is at least as important as removing the primary tumor. This requires advanced imaging and surgical techniques to assure complete removal of cancer and preservation of good intestinal function.

Liver resection: Significant experience is needed to determine if liver surgery can and should be performed for carcinoid tumors, since most are in both sides of the liver. Advanced planning and surgical techniques are important to ensure surgery is done only if you will benefit from it. This expertise also benefits many patients who would not be considered for surgery if standard approaches were used.

Appendectomy: Removal of the appendix, a common site of carcinoid tumors.

Radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation: These methods to destroy carcinoid tumors in the liver do not require surgical removal of the tumor (resection). They often are not as successful as surgery, but they may be helpful for some patients. Radiofrequency uses radio waves to heat tumors; cryoablation uses cold to freeze tumors. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and your doctor will decide if you can benefit from these treatments.

Radiation therapy usually is not used to treat carcinoid tumors. It may help people who cannot have surgery, and it may help relieve pain if the cancer has spread.

Chemotherapy is not an effective treatment for carcinoid tumors in the bowel. However, it may be used for neuroendocrine tumors starting in the pancreas or aggressive fast-growing neuroendocrine tumors.

Targeted therapies: MD Anderson is among just a few cancer centers in the nation that are able to offer targeted therapies for some types of carcinoid tumors. These innovative new drugs stop the growth of cancer cells by interfering with certain proteins and receptors or blood vessels that supply the tumor with what it needs to grow.

Octreotide: This drug, which is given by injection, contains a substance similar to the hormone somatostain. A long-acting version can be given once a month. Lanreotide is a similar drug. Although octreotide usually does not shrink carcinoid tumors, it may slow their growth and help relieve symptoms. Side effects may include insulin resistance.

Interferon: These natural substances activate the body’s immune system and sometimes slow the growth of carcinoid tumor cells.

Our Carcinoid Tumor Clinical Trials

Since MD Anderson is one of the nation’s leading research centers, we’re able to offer clinical trials (research studies) of new treatments for every type and stage of carcinoid tumor.

To find out more about clinical trials at MD Anderson for carcinod tumors, visit our Clinical Trials database or speak to your doctor.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center