What are Carcinoid Tumours of the Lung

Carcinoid lung tumors are a rare type of lung tumor that develops from neuroendocrine cells in the lungs. These tumors exhibit characteristics that are neither entirely benign nor malignant, often referred to as “midway” tumors. While they can become malignant, they typically grow slowly, allowing individuals to live for many years, often with a normal lifespan.

Neuroendocrine cells, from which carcinoid tumors originate, possess properties of both nerve cells and cells of hormone-producing glands. These cells are found in various organs, including the lungs, stomach, and intestines. When these cells undergo uncontrolled division and growth, tumors can form, most commonly in endocrine glands or the intestinal tract. Carcinoid tumors can also develop in the lungs, comprising about 10% of all carcinoid tumors and 1%-2% of all lung tumors.

Carcinoid lung tumors are categorized into two main types: typical and atypical carcinoids.

  1. Typical carcinoid lung tumors: These tumors are more common than atypical carcinoids and tend to grow slowly, with rare spreading to other parts of the body beyond the lungs.
  2. Atypical carcinoid lung tumors: These tumors grow more aggressively compared to typical carcinoids and are more likely to spread to other parts of the body. Atypical carcinoids constitute about 10% of all carcinoid lung tumors.

Some carcinoid tumors may produce hormone-like substances, leading to specific symptoms. Carcinoid syndrome refers to the symptoms caused by these substances, resulting from the body’s excessive response to them. Carcinoid syndrome is rare in individuals with carcinoid lung tumors, occurring in about 2% of cases.

Treatment for carcinoid tumors typically involves surgical removal of the tumor. If the tumor is localized to the lungs, surgery can often cure the cancer. However, the specific treatment approach may vary based on individual factors and the tumor’s characteristics. Regular follow-up care is essential to monitor for any recurrence or progression of the tumor.