What are the signs and symptoms of carcinoid tumors?

Updated: Feb 12, 2019
  • Author: Cameron K Tebbi, MD; Chief Editor: Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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Signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • Periodic abdominal pain: Most common presentation for a small intestinal carcinoid; often associated with malignant carcinoid syndrome

  • Cutaneous flushing: Early and frequent (94%) symptom; typically affects head and neck; often associated with an unpleasant warm feeling, itching, rash, sweating, palpitation, upper-body erythema and edema, salivation, diaphoresis, lacrimation, and diarrhea

  • Diarrhea and malabsorption (84%): Watery, frothy, or bulky stools, gastrointestinal (GI) bleed or steatorrhea; may or may not be associated with abdominal pain, flushing, and cramps

  • Cardiac manifestations (60%): Valvular heart lesions, fibrosis of the endocardium; may lead to heart failure with tachycardia and hypertension

  • Wheezing or asthmalike syndrome (25%): Due to bronchial constriction; some tremors are relatively indolent and result in chronic symptoms such as cough and dyspnea [16]

  • Pellagra with scale-like skin lesions, diarrhea and mental disturbances

  • Carcinoid crisis can be the most serious symptom of carcinoid tumors and can be life-threatening. It can occur suddenly, after stress, or following chemotherapy and anesthesia. [17]

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