Lung Carcinoid Tumor Treatment in NJ, CT, MD and the Washington, DC Area

Lung carcinoid tumors are a rare type of lung cancer originating in the neuroendocrine cells. Patients who receive treatment for the most common type of lung carcinoid tumors have an average 5-year survival rate of 85% to 95%.

The highly experienced medical oncologists of Regional Cancer Care Associates, deliver advanced treatment, including targeted therapy, for lung carcinoid tumors, as well as for other cancers and blood disorders, to patients in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area. Read on to learn more about the symptoms, risk factors, and treatments for carcinoid tumors of the lung.

What Are Lung Carcinoid Tumors?

Neuroendocrine cells are found throughout the body. They produce hormones, neurotransmitters, and related substances. In the lungs, these cells play a role in managing air and blood flow and the growth of other cells. They also monitor the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in inhaled air and release chemicals. When neuroendocrine cells grow too fast, they create a small carcinoid tumor.

Only cancers stemming from neuroendocrine cells in the lungs are carcinoid tumors. Doctors divide lung carcinoid tumors into two groups:

  • Typical: These lung carcinoid tumors account for approximately 90% of all cases. They usually grow slowly and do not spread to other parts of the body. Doctors have not found any association between typical lung carcinoid tumors and smoking.
  • Atypical: Atypical carcinoid tumors grow more rapidly and are more likely to spread to other areas of the body. They appear in fewer patients than the typical variety and may be more common in those who smoke.
Diagram depicting lung cancer tumor

Stages of Carcinoid Tumors of the Lung

The TNM system is the most frequently used method for characterizing the stage of lung carcinoid tumors. This system bases results on three aspects:

  • Size of the main tumor (T)
  • Spread to nearby lymph nodes (N)
  • Spread to further organs (M)

Doctors assign numbers or letters after T, N, and M that represent more information about each factor. The higher the number, the more advanced the cancer. Once doctors determine the T, N, and M categories for a patient, they group the information into a stage. The American Cancer Society provides more information on the specific stages of lung carcinoid tumors and their significance.

Symptoms of Carcinoid Tumors of the Lung

Symptoms are fairly uncommon in people with lung carcinoid tumors — only about 25% of people with the tumors experience them. When present, the signs of carcinoid tumors include:

  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Redness or flushing in the face
  • Weight gain
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hirsutism (excessive body and facial hair growth)

Of course, these symptoms can indicate a different disorder, as well. For example, the cancer shares some signs with pneumonia. Prompt medical evaluation of symptoms is important because physicians have the diagnostic tools to determine if a patient has a lung carcinoid tumor or another condition.

Risk Factors for Carcinoid Tumors of the Lung

The exact causes of lung carcinoid tumors remain unclear, as do risk factors for the disease. In some cases, there is no obvious risk factor. That said, physicians have observed that the following may increase risk for the condition:

  • Family history of the disease
  • Being female and white
  • Being between 45 and 55 years old
  • Smoking tobacco (for atypical carcinoid tumors)
  • Having an inherited disease that compounds the risk for tumors in endocrine organs (such as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1)

Diagnosing Lung Carcinoid Tumors

Because neuroendocrine cells are related to hormones, doctors typically search for hormonal abnormalities when evaluating a patient for lung carcinoid tumors. A key test used for diagnosing the disease is a bronchoscopy. This procedure enables a physician to visualize the lungs to detect irregular growths. Other diagnostic tools used to identify carcinoid tumors include:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Chest x-ray
  • Biopsy
  • Blood and urine screenings
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose PET scan

Treating Lung Carcinoid Tumors

Early detection of lung carcinoid tumors is vital to ensure that patients receive the treatment they need as soon as possible. Treatment varies depending on the tumor’s size and the patient’s overall health, but the main options are radiation therapy and the following surgeries:

  • Lobectomy
  • Pneumonectomy
  • Sublobar resection
  • Lymph node dissection

Targeted therapy is another form of r cancer treatment that may be used for lung carcinoid tumors. Unlike chemotherapy drugs that can harm healthy cells while killing tumor cells, targeted drugs search specifically for cancer cells and so avoid interfering with healthy cells. This form of treatment uses monoclonal antibodies, small-molecule drugs, and other medicines to target cancerous cells.

Obtain Comprehensive Care at Regional Cancer Care Associates

Find targeted therapy for lung carcinoid tumors, plus treatment for other cancers and hematologic conditions at Regional Cancer Care Associates. Patients in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, DC area can rely on RCCA’s team of highly experienced oncologists and hematologists to provide comprehensive and compassionate care including targeted therapies, when appropriate, and other cutting-edge treatment modalities. Contact Regional Cancer Care Associates to learn more about carcinoid tumors of the lung or visit one of RCCA’s many locations for treatment.

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Regional Cancer Care Associates is one of fewer than 200 medical practices in the country selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM); a recent Medicare initiative aimed at improving care coordination and access to and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.