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Knowledge about potential gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor risk factors can help people make more informed health care and lifestyle choices. In general, a risk factor is anything that can increase a person’s chance of developing this type of neuroendocrine tumor. However, it’s important to note that a causal link between most of these risk factors and carcinoid tumors has not been conclusively established, and many people who meet one or more of these risk factors never develop cancer. Also, many people who develop the condition have no known risk factors.

With that said, some researchers believe the following factors can heighten an individual’s risk of developing a gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor:

  • Genetic syndromes – Neuroendocrine tumors tend to develop more frequently in people with inherited defects in the MEN1, NF1, TSC1 or TSC2 genes, which occur in conditions like multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, neurofibromatosis type 1, tuberous sclerosis complex and von Hippel Lindau disease.
  • Other stomach conditions – Patients who have conditions like pernicious anemia and atrophic gastritis, which can damage the stomach or reduce the amount of acid it produces, tend to be more likely to develop stomach carcinoid tumors (but not carcinoid tumors in other organs).
  • Smoking – Tobacco use is believed to increase the risk of carcinoid tumors in the small intestine, as well as many other forms of cancer.

Even though many of these carcinoid tumor risk factors are unavoidable, a general awareness of them can promote early detection by prompting people to pay close attention to their health and to see a physician if anything unusual occurs. For advice about cancer risk, many people turn to Moffitt Cancer Center, a nationally recognized leader in cancer research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Our hallmark is a highly individualized approach to treatment, and our patients have access to talented medical professionals with wide-ranging specialties. Our unique tumor board thoroughly evaluates each patient, monitors his or her progress and serves as a source of multiple expert opinions throughout the treatment process and beyond.

If you’d like to learn more about gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor risk factors, the multispecialty team of cancer experts in Moffitt’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program can answer your questions and help you assess your own risk level. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. No referral is needed.