The exact cause of lung carcinoid tumours is not known. Many risk factors have been identified for other types of lung cancers, but currently, no definite modifiable risk factors (factors that can be changed or controlled) are known for carcinoid tumours of the lungs. Some risk factors for lung carcinoid tumours include:
- Tobacco smoke: Smoking and other chemicals in the environment or workplace are major risk factors for most types of lung cancer; but they are not known to increase the risk of typical lung carcinoid tumours. According to studies, atypical lung carcinoids may be more common in people who smoke; so, quitting smoke can decrease the risk of atypical lung carcinoids.
- Gender: Lung carcinoid tumours are more likely to occur in women than in men.
- Race/ethnicity: Lung carcinoid tumours are more likely to occur in whites than in African Americans, Asian Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
- Age: It is most often diagnosed in people about 60 years old, however, the tumour can occur in people of almost any age (even in children, although very rarely).
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1: The risk of lung carcinoidtumours, (besides tumours in the pancreas and in the pituitary and parathyroid glands) is increased in people with MEN1 (an inherited syndrome).
As most of these risk factors of most lung carcinoid tumours are not modifiable or preventable, it is not known how to prevent this type of lung cancer.
- Quitting smoking is possibly the only factor that can decrease your risk of atypical carcinoids.
- Regular computed tomography (CT) scans of the chest every 3 years after the age of 20 in people with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), can help to detect the tumour in the early stages.