Nearly 12,000 people in the United States are diagnosed each year with carcinoid tumors, which also are called neuroendocrine tumors. The number of people with carcinoid tumors has been increasing in recent years. This probably is because of the increase of endoscopy and CT scans to screen for or diagnose other issues.
This slow-growing type of cancer can start in any part of the body that has neuroendocrine cells. These cells receive signals from the nervous system and then release hormones into the blood. Carcinoid tumors are most common in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the lungs.
The average age of people diagnosed with carcinoid tumors is the early 60s. Carcinoid tumors are more common in African-Americans than in whites. They are slightly more common in women than men. A GI carcinoid tumor makes you more likely to have other digestive system cancers.
Carcinoid Tumor Risk Factors
Anything that increases your chance of getting a carcinoid tumor is a risk factor. These include:
- Conditions that affect how the stomach makes digestive juices, including atrophic gastritis, pernicious anemia or Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
- Family history of a rare syndrome called multiple endocrine neoplasia 1 (MEN1)
- Race: African-Americans are more likely to develop carcinoid tumors in certain areas of the body than whites
- Gender: Carcinoid tumors are slightly more common in women
- Smoking tobacco
Not everyone with risk factors gets carcinoid tumors. However, if you have risk factors, you should discuss them with your doctor.