What are the challenges to correctly diagnose carcinoid tumors?

Updated: Feb 12, 2019
  • Author: Cameron K Tebbi, MD; Chief Editor: Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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Diagnosis and differential diagnosis

  • Because symptoms can be vague and intermittent, diagnosis may be delayed, especially in children, in whom the tumor is rare and the diagnosis is unexpected.

  • Diagnostic difficulties may arise in patients who have flushing without a large tumor or metastases and in those without symptoms.

  • The diagnosis is sometimes made because of unrelated findings, such as anemia, endocrine disease, or autoimmune disease.

  • Tumors in the chest can produce symptoms because of their location or can be discovered using chest radiography.

  • In the absence of positive imaging findings and biochemical markers, in the differential diagnoses disorders such as an adverse reaction to medications, other malignant disorders (eg, chronic myelogenous leukemia), mastocytosis, and other tumors should be considered.

  • The availability of octreotide-receptor scintigraphy allows for the detection of the tumor and metastases. When results are positive, they may also allow for therapy by using octreotide with large doses of therapeutic radioactive agents.

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