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The carcinoid tumor is a rare type of cancer. It develops in the neuroendocrine system of the body. The neuroendocrine system is responsible for the production of different kinds of hormones. That is why when the person is affected with a carcinoid tumor, he will have symptoms that are due to both the tumor itself as well as hormone imbalances. Carcinoid tumors are usually present in the gastrointestinal system or lungs, but they can also be found in the breast, ovaries, testicles, or kidneys. It usually occurs in people who are over 50 years old.

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Flushing

Around 10 percent of the people affected by carcinoid tumor will develop carcinoid syndrome. Carcinoid syndrome occurs when the carcinoid tumor produces different types of hormones. Flushing is one of the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome. About 75 percent of carcinoid tumor patients will experience flushing after exercising, being stressed, drinking alcohol and eating certain foods. However, flushing will gradually start to appear on its own without precipitating factors. The release of histamine may explain the flushing in the carcinoid tumor of the stomach. Histamine is a chemical that causes the blood vessels to become wider, leading more blood to flow to that area. As a consequence, this area will appear red.

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Diarrhea

Diarrhea is also common in people who suffer from a carcinoid tumor. It can be associated with flushing, or it can occur without other symptoms. Its severity varies from one person to another. Severe diarrhea can stop a person from having a normal life, even making them reluctant to leave their home. However, the main danger of diarrhea is that it can lead to dehydration. Dehydration occurs due to the persistent loss of substantial amounts of water and electrolytes.

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Cramps

When the carcinoid tumor starts in the small intestine, it can cause nausea and vomiting. As the tumor becomes large, it may lead to complete obstruction of the intestine, which will cause intense cramps. The belly pain will become severe, and the patient will suffer from severe episodes of nausea and vomiting as well. This is a severe condition that requires medical help.

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Telangiectasia

Many carcinoid tumor patients develop dry flushes on the face. This flushing is caused by the dilatation of blood vessels. After sustained periods of flushing, the person may start to develop telangiectasia. Telangiectasia is a term that describes small reddish spots or bluish veins that become visible. It can appear anywhere but are usually present on the face of the affected person, particularly around the nose or near the cheeks and chin. They may also appear on the legs.

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Pellagra

One of the primary chemicals secreted by the carcinoid tumor is serotonin. When there is a tumor, the production of serotonin increases significantly. This can dramatically alter the body's hormone balance and lead to a condition called pellagra. Pellagra is characterized by diarrhea, skin inflammation, and dementia. The person affected with pellagra may become more aggressive or develop sensitivity to the light of the sun. Hair loss and lack of sleep are also common symptoms.

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Heart Problems

A carcinoid tumor can cause lesions in the valves of the heart. These lesions can lead to a condition called carcinoid heart disease. This is a serious condition that occurs in people affected by an advanced carcinoid tumor and is likely the result of the excess amounts of vasoactive chemicals secreted by the tumor. Carcinoid heart disease usually starts in the valves of the right side of the heart and may lead to right side heart failure. In this case, patients are advised to undergo valve replacement surgery.

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Peripheral Edema

Edema is the accumulation of water in the space between the cells. It causes the area where the water accumulates to swell. Peripheral edema usually occurs in the legs but may also occur in the hands and arms. It is important to remember that this condition can occur due to the chemicals secreted by the tumor or as one of the manifestations of a problem in the heart. In carcinoid heart disease, the right side of the heart is usually affected and cannot receive the blood from different tissues as efficiently as it used to. The fluid may, therefore, be unable to reach the tissues, causing peripheral edema.

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Cough

The tumor may originate from the lungs. In this case, the carcinoid tumor will cause the affected patient to cough. The person may even start to cough blood. Many people also complain that it becomes difficult for them to breathe. They feel pain in their chest, and they feel tired all the time. Even if the carcinoid tumor develops outside the lung, it can still produce respiratory symptoms like wheezes. These symptoms are caused by the different chemicals that can make the passage of the airways narrower.

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Carcinoid Tumor of the Appendix

Of all the tumors that may develop in the appendix, carcinoid tumors are the most common. A person with a carcinoid tumor in their appendix may not complain of any symptoms. The tumor is usually discovered accidentally during an operation to remove the appendix for another reason. If symptoms are present, they are usually not specific and don't pinpoint to a carcinoid tumor in the appendix. Some of these symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

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Carcinoid Tumor of the Small Intestine

The small intestine is the most common site of a carcinoid tumor. The ileum, which is the third portion of the small intestine, is more likely to be affected than other parts. This may lead to the person's skin and eyes becoming yellowish.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.