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Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor (NET) that can occur throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, with about 5-7% developing in the colon. While carcinoid tumors are the most common form of NET, they account for less than 1% of all colorectal cancers.

Colon carcinoid tumor behavior

Nonfunctional carcinoid tumors are slow growing. So slow growing, in fact, that they rarely metastasize (spread to other areas of the body). However, the slow growth of these tumors also means that they typically cause few, if any, symptoms. When present, the symptoms are usually vague and often associated with other conditions (symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhea). This is why carcinoid tumors are often discovered by chance during an exam or procedure performed for unrelated purposes.

Many patients who have a carcinoid tumor of the colon have more than just one. Physicians typically check for other tumors during diagnostics or surgery.

Treatment for carcinoid tumors of the colon

Surgery is the most common form of treatment for GI carcinoid tumors of the colon. The earlier this type of tumor is caught, the better the chances are for complete removal with surgery. If surgery is performed before a colon carcinoid tumor has spread, the cancer can oftentimes be treated effectively with surgery alone. If metastasis has occurred, then other therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or ablation, may be incorporated into the patient’s treatment plan.

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program includes a multispecialty team of physicians focused solely on the diagnosis and treatment of colon cancer. Our multispecialty approach to treatment ensures that all angles of therapy are considered together, as our physicians collaborate to create comprehensive treatment plans that are truly individualized for each of our patients.

To learn more about GI carcinoid tumors of the colon, or to meet with an oncologist specializing in this type of cancer, contact Moffitt by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing a new patient registration form online. Referrals are not needed to visit Moffitt Cancer Center.