What is the pathophysiology 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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Carcinoid tumors are of neuroendocrine origin and derived from primitive stem cells, which can give rise to multiple cell lineages. [36] In the intestinal tract, these tumors develop deep in the mucosa, growing slowly and extending into the underlying submucosa and mucosal surface. This results in the formation of small firm nodules, which bulge into the intestinal lumen. These tumors have a yellow, tan, or gray-brown appearance that can be observed through the intact mucosa. The yellow color is a result of cholesterol and lipid accumulation within the tumor. Tumors can have a polypoid appearance and occasionally become ulcerated. With expansion and infiltration through the submucosa into the muscularis propria and serosa, carcinoid tumors can involve the mesentery. Metastases to the mesenteric lymph node and liver, ovaries, peritoneum, and spleen can occur.

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