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Specific gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor causes have yet to be identified. What is known is that healthy cells can transform into cancerous cells after undergoing abnormal changes that stem from DNA mutations. Simply put, DNA provides a code of conduct for cellular behavior. Among other things, it tells the cells when to reproduce (through oncogenes) and when to die (through tumor suppressor genes). Damaged DNA provides faulty instructions, sometimes telling cells to divide uncontrollably or to remain alive longer than they should. The resulting excess cells can bind together and form tumors, which can potentially become cancerous and invade other tissues and organs.

In most cases, gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors result from DNA mutations that develop after a person is born (rather than being inherited). Very little is known about the causes of the DNA mutations that can specifically lead to a gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor. However, while studying other types of cancer, researchers have found that acquired DNA mutations can result from chemicals in:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • An individual’s diet
  • The environment

Scientists have established that gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors are initially very small and slow growing. While microscopically examining tissue samples when treating patients for other conditions, physicians often find groups of cells that resemble tiny carcinoid tumors in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. Researchers do not know why some of these tumors eventually grow large enough to cause symptoms.

As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt Cancer Center is leading the way with research initiatives focused on gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor causes. Through these widely acclaimed efforts, we are transforming cancer treatment, and we are able to provide our patients with access to many innovative options, including promising clinical trials. As a result, our Gastrointestinal Oncology Program regularly achieves patient outcomes that exceed national averages, and our patients benefit from an enhanced quality of life.

If you’d like to learn more about gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor causes, the experts at Moffitt will be pleased to discuss your case. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. No referrals are required.