Carcinoid cancer is one of the few types of cancer that can form in several places throughout the body. They generally form tumors which are very slow growing and don’t often show any symptoms until very late into the disease. Although they can form in many places, there are two common sites where the tumors generally begin: in the lungs and in the digestive tract.
Statistics About Carcinoid Cancer
1. There is no staging system for carcinoid cancer that forms within the digestive system.
2. It is estimated that about 12,000 carcinoid tumors are diagnosed in the United States each year.
3. About 75% of the carcinoid cancers that are found occur somewhere within the gastrointestinal tract.
4. Although carcinoid tumors make up just 1% of gastrointestinal cancers, they account for 50% of the small intestine cancers that are found.
5. If a carcinoid tumor of the gastrointestinal tract is found before the cancer has spread, the 5 year survival rate can be as high as 90%.
6. Having a carcinoid tumor in the lungs also offers a 5 year survival rate of up to 90%.
7. If an atypical carcinoid tumor of the lungs is discovered, the survival rate can drop to as low as 1 in 2.
8. The age adjusted occurrence rate of carcinoid cancer in the global population is about 1 in 50,000 people.
9. The average age when someone is diagnosed with a carcinoid tumor is 61.4 years.
10. The percentage of people who have other forms of cancer in addition to gastrointestinal carcinoid cancer: 29%.
11. Carcinoid syndrome occurs in about 1 out 5 cases of a malignant tumor being present.
12. 35% of carcinoids of the small intestine are associated with carcinoid syndrome.
13. Only 2% of carcinoid cancers are discovered because of changes in hormone production.
14. 90% of patients who have MEN1 will develop G-cell carcinoids.
15. The amount of people who complain of unusual abdominal pain when there is a carcinoid cancer present somewhere in their body: 1 in 2.
16. The average age of someone diagnosed with a colon cancer that was formed by a carcinoid tumor: 66.
17. Carcinoid cancers account for less than 1% of all rectal cancers.
18. Carcinoid cancers that can be detected by an octreotide scan: as high as 90%.
19. Metastatic cancers that are carcinoid in nature may have a 5 year survival rate of up to 60%.
20. More than 50% of patients with rectal carcinoids are asymptomatic and are more common in the African American population.
21. The presence of cardiac disease can cut the 5 year survival rate by up to 50%.
Many people who might have carcinoid cancer in the early stages may not think much of the symptoms that they have. The tumors for this cancer release hormones that cause the skin to flush, much like having a large dose of niacin can, while diarrhea is a common concern as well. If the cancer is in other places, there may be additional symptoms, just as wheezing, a shortness of breath, chest pain, or weight gain.
For carcinoid cancer that can be seen near the skin, it looks like there are purple or pink stretch marks that have begun to form. Unfortunately many of these signs and symptoms are rather vague, so knowing if there is a tumor present in its early stages is often caught by luck alone. If you do have any of these symptoms that persist or have unusual pain that won’t go away, then it is important to make an appointment with your doctor.
Although no one really knows why cancer starts to form in the first place, medical professionals do know that carcinoid cancer does form in the neuroendocrine cells. These cells turn into tumors when they don’t die as they should and this is why hormones are produced by this particular cancer.
More Interesting Facts About Cancer
As with any form of cancer, early detection is the key to being able to have the best chances of survival. Unfortunately early detection is often incidental with carcinoid cancer because the symptoms are so mild – if they exist at all.
Because the primary complaint of carcinoid cancer is abdominal pain, anything that is unusual in the gastrointestinal area should be looked at immediately – especially if it doesn’t go away after a day or two. Although the statistics show that most cases of abdominal pain aren’t going to be this cancer, it is important to get checked out if there are some of the other symptoms present.
One of the best ways to know if you have a carcinoid cancer is to get an MRI. Depending on the location of the tumor, the success rate of diagnosis through MRI is 67% to 100%. This procedure isn’t cost-effective for most households, of course, but it could be a lifesaving scan that happens if there are some unusual symptoms going on.
There are some symptoms of carcinoid cancer that mimic an overdose of the B vitamins, so if you consume a lot of energy drinks, this is probably what is going on. If you are concerned, however, then stop using energy drinks to see what happens. If you continue to get the skin flushing or if you see unusual stretch marks begin to develop beneath the skin, then it is time to get checked out right away. You could be experiencing the hormone production that carcinoid cancers can sometimes cause.
The fact remains that most people are not going to be diagnosed with a carcinoid cancer. With low incident rates, it is more likely that the symptoms anyone might be experiencing at any given time aren’t cancer-related. If you have a family history of cancer or have symptoms that have started which don’t go away, then it is time to go get checked out. That one doctor’s appointment might just be the best way to increase your chances of survival.