Possible treatments

Treatment for a carcinoid tumour depends on the tumour’s location, whether the cancer has spread, the types of hormones that the tumour secretes, your overall health and your own preferences1.

Carcinoid tumour treatment options may include:

  • Surgery. When detected early, a carcinoid tumour may be removed completely using surgery. If carcinoid tumours are advanced when discovered, complete removal may not be possible. In some situations, surgeons may try to remove as much of the tumour as possible, to help control signs and symptoms.
  • Medications to control excess hormones. Using medications to block hormones secreted by the tumour may reduce the signs and symptoms of carcinoid syndrome and slow tumour growth.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses strong drugs to kill tumour cells. Chemotherapy is sometimes recommended for treating advanced carcinoid tumours that can’t be removed with surgery.
  • Targeted drug therapy. Targeted drug treatments focus on specific abnormalities present within tumour cells. By blocking these abnormalities, targeted drug treatments can cause tumour cells to die. Targeted drug therapy is usually combined with chemotherapy for advanced carcinoid tumours.
  • Drugs that deliver radiation directly to the cancer cells. Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) combines a drug that seeks out cancer cells with a radioactive substance that kills them. This therapy may be an option for people with advanced carcinoid tumours.
  • Treatment for cancer that spreads to the liver. Carcinoid tumours commonly spread to the liver. Treatments may include surgery to remove part of the liver, blocking blood flow to the liver (hepatic artery embolization), and using heat and cold to kill cancer cells. Radiofrequency ablation delivers heat treatments that cause carcinoid tumour cells in the liver to die. Cryoablation uses cycles of freezing and thawing to kill cancer cells.

1Mayo Clinic