Carcinoid--a comprehensive review

Acta Oncol. 2003;42(7):672-92. doi: 10.1080/02841860310010547.


Carcinoid tumors originate from the neuroendocrine cells throughout the body and are capable of producing various peptides. Their clinical course is often indolent but can also be aggressive and resistant to therapy. We examined all aspects of carcinoid tumors including the molecular biology oncogenesis, role of angiogenesis, recent advances in imaging, and therapy. The Medline and Cancerlit databases were searched using carcinoid as the keyword. English language manuscripts were reviewed and relevant references from a total of 7741 were found. All titles were screened and all the relevant manuscripts were analyzed; we found 307 references pertinent to the history, epidemiology, clinical behavior, pathology, pathophysiology, molecular biology, radiologic imaging, supportive care of carcinoid syndrome, and results of therapeutic clinical trials. Management of patients with carcinoid tumors requires an understanding of the disease process and a multimodality approach. Introduction of long-acting somatostatin analogues has resulted in significant advances in the palliative care of patients with carcinoid syndrome. However, advanced carcinoid tumor remains incurable. Existing therapies for advanced disease have low biologic activity, high toxicity, or both. Clearly, more research is necessary in the areas of molecular biology, targeted therapy, and development of new drugs Future advances in this field need to focus on clinical and biological predictors of outcome. Early works in the area of tumor biology such as the role of p53, bcl-2, bax, MEN1, FGF TGF PDGF and VEGF expression are of interest and need to be explored further.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Carcinoid Tumor* / diagnosis
  • Carcinoid Tumor* / etiology
  • Carcinoid Tumor* / genetics
  • Carcinoid Tumor* / therapy
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care
  • Prognosis
  • Radionuclide Imaging


  • Biomarkers, Tumor