Symptoms of Carcinoid Tumours of the Lung

By  , Expert Content
Jan 04, 2012

Carcinoid tumours of the lung are slow growing tumours, which usually don't produce symptoms in the early stages. Most cases of lung carcinoids are diagnosed around 60 years of age. About 25% of cases with carcinoid lung tumours are asymptomatic (have no symptoms) on diagnosis. They may be diagnosed accidentally when a routine chest X-ray is done for some unrelated medical problem.

Symptoms and severity of carcinoid tumours of the lung depend on;

  • Size of the tumour.
  • Whether or not it secretes hormones.

Some common symptoms, which may occur in a person with carcinoid lung tumours, are:

  • Persistent cough (cough that does not go away).
  • About 50% may have blood in cough (hemoptysis).
  • Chest pain.
  • Difficulty or discomfort while breathing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Fever (due to infection in the lung).

Similar symptoms are often caused by lung infection. Therefore, some patients may be wrongly diagnosed with lung infection and treated with antibiotics. When the symptoms fail to resolve with treatment, the possibility of a tumour is considered and the patient is further investigated.

Some lung carcinoid tumours may secrete hormone-like substances. The body reacts to these substances and causes some specific symptoms. The term carcinoid syndrome is used to refer to symptoms, which are caused due to hormone-like substances produced by the carcinoid tumours. Hormone-like substances, however, are rarely secreted by lung carcinoid tumours and only 2% of people develop carcinoid syndrome.

In some cases, the symptom/s of various endocrine syndromes (carcinoid syndrome) may be the initial manifestation of carcinoid lung tumours. Symptoms, which may occur in cases with carcinoid syndrome, include the following:

  • Flushing of face (redness and a warm feeling it may last for hours to days).
  • Sweating (may be profuse).
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fast heartbeat (palpitation).
  • Weight loss.
  • Increase in facial and body hair.
  • Increase in pigmentation on skin.

In most cases with carcinoid lung tumours, the tumour grows slowly. The tumour may become malignant and therefore, spread to other parts of the body (metastasis). Symptoms of the disease in cases of metastatic disease include the following besides other symptoms:

  • Weight loss.
  • Weakness.
  • General feeling of ill health.




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