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What Is The Difference Between Carcinoid & Neuroendocrine Tumours?

What Is The Difference Between Carcinoid & Neuroendocrine Tumours?

Carcinoids are in fact a type of neuroendocrine tumor. Carcinoid tumors usually start in the digestive tract, which includes the stomach, appendix, small intestine, colon, rectum, etc. Carcinoid tumors may also start in the lungs. Carcinoid tumors usually do not create any signs and symptoms until the disease has progressed too far. Carcinoid the are capable of producing and releasing certain chemicals in your body that may lead to various signs and symptoms, like skin flushing, diarrhea, etc.(1)

Risk Factors For Carcinoid Tumours

Some factors may increase the risk of developing endocrine tumors. These may include-

Age- Older people are more likely to get affected by carcinoid tumors(1)

Gender- Carcinoids are seen to be occurring more in women than in men(1)

History- If someone in the family is affected by multiple endocrine neoplasias, type 1, you may be at an increased risk of getting carcinoids(1)

Complications Of Carcinoids

Carcinoids can cause many different complications, which may include-

Carcinoid Syndrome-

  • This condition causes redness in your face.
  • There is also a feeling of warmth in your neck and face, also known as skin flushing.
  • There may be chronic diarrhea, dyspnoea, etc.(1)

Carcinoid Heart Disease-

  • In this condition, there may be a thickening of the heart lining, valves, and blood vessels.
  • This may cause serious conditions like valve leakage or heart failure.(1)

Cushing Syndrome-

  • In this condition, too much cortisol can be produced if the carcinoid has affected the lungs.(1)
  • Neuroendocrine tumors are classified into different types. One such sub-type of them is carcinoid tumor.

Causes Of Carcinoid Tumours-

The exact cause of carcinoid tumors is not known. Usually, cancer develops when there are mutations in the DNA of a cell. Due to these mutations, the cells grow uncontrollably and multiply abnormally. This collection of cells results in the formation of a lump or a mass which is called a tumor. The cells of cancer can encroach upon nearby healthy cells and can spread to other parts of the body.

The exact causes of why the mutations occur in the body are not known. However, it is known that carcinoids occur in neuroendocrine cells.(1)

Other various types of neuroendocrine tumors, apart from carcinoids are-

Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours

These occur in the pancreas. There are again a few subtypes of this tumor, like-

Insulinomas- these are the commonest of them all. These cancer cells produce insulin and they are often not malignant.(2)

Glucagonomas- These tumors make glucagon which increases the blood sugar levels. About fifty percent of them are malignant and they usually spread to other parts of the body(2)

Gastrinomas- These tumors make gastrin which helps in digesting food. These tumors are seen when you are affected with a rare disorder called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

Most of them are cancerous and usually spread easily in the body.(2)

Somatostatinomas- These tumors make an excess of somatostatin, which in turn affects the production of other hormones in your body(2)

VIPomas- These make a kind of hormone that sets off the release of other hormones called the VIP or vasoactive intestinal peptides(2)


  • This occurs in the adrenal glands.
  • This tumor makes adrenaline and noradrenaline which may lead to an increase in blood pressure.
  • These are usually not cancerous(2)

Medullary Carcinoma-

This occurs in the thyroid gland and it affects the calcium levels in the body.(2)


Carcinoids are one of the many different types of neuroendocrine tumors, that occurs very rarely. Carcinoids usually develop in the digestive tract, which includes the stomach, appendix, small intestine, colon, etc. It may also develop in the lungs. Carcinoids produce signs and symptoms at a far too later stage of the disease. The exact cause for the development of carcinoids is not known. Apart from carcinoids, there are various other types of neuroendocrine tumors.


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 1, 2019

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