Patho physiology: Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor, which means they come from cells of the nervous and endocrine system, and can produce hormones. When they secrete excess hormones such as histamine and serotonin, they can cause symptoms such as flushing, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. This is called carcinoid syndrome. When these tumors spread to the liver, patients usually begin to develop malignant carcinoid syndrome. In fact, this syndrome develops when vasoactive substances produced by a carcinoid tumor escape hepatic degradation and gain access to the systemic circulation.Carcinoids arising in the stomach are usually associated with low gastric acid production, a condition termed hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria. These tumors rarely become malignant and never metastasize, but they sometimes produce histamine.Carcinoid tumors arising in the lung generally produce serotonin, gastrin, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and histamine. Carcinoids that develop outside the appendix are often malignant, while tumors developing in the appendix are usually benign if smaller than 2 cm in diameter. Rectal carcinoid tumors often produce polypeptides (PPs), polypeptide Y, neuropeptide Y, and other peptides, but none of the patients with this disease location have symptoms related to the production of such molecules. Few patients have liver metastases, but if they do have liver metastases, they do not have hormone-related symptoms.
Treatment: Somatostatin analogues have been the treatment of choice in symptomatic patients with carcinoid tumors, but more recent studies have indicated a cytostatic effect of somatostatin analogues. Tumor-targeted radioactive treatment based on somatostatin analogues is now under clinical evaluation. Preliminary data indicate interesting clinical potentials. If metastasis of carcinoid tumor has occurred and in cases where surgical excision is not suitable, consider treatment with currently recommended chemotherapy. Chemotherapeutic agents currently used in clinical trials to palliate metastatic carcinoid disease include the following: Alkylating agents, Doxorubicin, 5-Fluorouracil, Dacarbazine, Actinomycin D, Cisplatin, Etoposide, Streptozotocin, Interferon alfa, Somatostatin analogs with a radioactive load • A combination of the agents listed above is typically used.
Research: Cells of the human bronchial carcinoid cell line NCI-H727 and the human pancreatic carcinoid cell line BON-1 were treated with increasing concentrations of imatinib using standard procedures to assess in vitro growth-inhibitory activity. A clinical trial using a two-stage phase II design to assess the response rate and safety profile of imatinib at a dose of 400 mg given twice daily in patients with advanced carcinoid tumors was completed. In both cell lines, there was a dose- and time-dependent cytotoxic effect. The clinical trial enrolled 27 evaluable patients. Median duration on trial was 16 weeks. One patient had a partial response, 17 had stable disease, and 9 had progressive disease by the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors criteria. Median progression-free survival time was 24 weeks. Median overall survival is 36 months. Seven patients who achieved a biochemical response had a superior progression-free survival time compared with patients without biochemical response (115 weeks compared with 24 weeks; P = 0.003). An increase in plasma basic fibroblast growth factor was associated with a shorter progression-free survival duration (P = 0.02) Our data suggest that imatinib is active in vitro and has a modest clinical activity in carcinoid patients. Changes in tumor markers may help select patients who are likely to benefit from therapy.
Statistics: Out of all the people diagnosed with carcinoid tumours – of whatever stage or type – somewhere between 68 and 77 out of 100 (68 – 77%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis. If your carcinoid is localised (it hasn’t spread outside the part of the digestive system it started in), 93 out of 100 people (93%) survive for 5 years or more. If the carcinoid has spread to lymph nodes, 74 out of 100 people (74%) survive for 5 years or more. If the carcinoid has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic carcinoid), between 28 and 41 out of every 100 people (28 - 41%) survive for 5 years or more. Do remember that statistics are only ever a general guide, and you will need to talk to your own cancer specialist about your own outlook. Overall, about 80 out of 100 people (80%) diagnosed with lung carcinoid survive for 5 years or more, if the disease is localised (Stage 1 - 2). If the carcinoid has spread to lymph nodes far away from the original tumour, or it has spread to other organs (Stage 3 – 4), between 14 and 26 people out of 100 (14 – 26%) survive for 5 years or more. People with typical lung carcinoid tend to do better than those with atypical carcinoid. Atypical lung carcinoid is likely to be more advanced by the time it is diagnosed