Treating the Symptoms of Carcinoid Syndrome

Carcinoid syndrome is a set of symptoms that can be very disruptive to normal life. Less than 10 percent of people with carcinoid tumors will develop carcinoid syndrome.

A patient may experience one or more of these symptoms, which include:

  • Flushing or redness of the skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Carcinoid-related heart disease
  • Abdominal cramping or gastritis
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Skin rash and itching

Tumors that cause these symptoms are called functional tumors. The symptoms occur when the tumor causes an overproduction of a hormone.

The first step is to eliminate as many of the tumors as possible so that the amount of excess hormone in the body is decreased.

Drugs called somatostatin analogs have been shown to control symptoms. (They also slow down tumor cell growth.) They can greatly improve a patient's quality of life. They are given as injections on an outpatient basis. Certain things, such as stress or a particular food, can trigger symptoms in some patients. Our team will help you identify what your triggers might be. Keeping a calendar or diary of symptoms may be beneficial.

Each individual is different, and the specialists on our team, including pain specialists, social workers, and dieticians, will work with you to help you to manage your unique symptoms.