Typical and atypical carcinoid tumours: 20-year experience with 89 patients

J Cardiovasc Surg (Torino). 2009 Dec;50(6):807-11. Epub 2008 Oct 24.


Aim: The aim of this study was to conduct a retrospective clinical and pathological analysis of the authors' 20-year experience on treatment of typical and atypical carcinoid tumours.

Methods: A retrospective clinical and pathological analysis was conducted on 89 patients treated for bronchial carcinoid neoplasms at the Division of Thoracic Surgery, Hospital of Florence (Italy) between January 1986 and January 2006. They were 47 male (52.8%) and 42 female patients, age ranging from 22 to 77 years (average: 55.5 years). Diagnosis was made with radiological methods such as plain chest roentgenography, computed tomography (CT), and bronchoscopy. On the basis of bronchoscopic findings 63 carcinoids (70.8%) were centrally located and 26 (29.2%) were classified as peripheral. In 38 cases of central lesion the diagnosis was obtained by endobronchial biopsy. A correct pathological diagnosis was obtained before surgery in 58 patients; in the others resected cases the correct diagnosis was determined by intraoperative histology during surgery. All operation were performed through a thoracotomy, with sparing muscle in last ten years. Surgical procedures utilized were lobectomy, pneumonectomy, segmentectomy, wedge resections, sleeve resections and bronchoplastic procedures. A radical mediastinal lymphadenectomy was performed in every operation.

Results: There were 63 (70.8%) typical carcinoid (TC) and 26 (29,2%) atypical carcinoid (AC). No operative or postoperative mortality was seen. Ten patients (11.7%) experienced complications: 4 prolonged air leaks, 2 bleeding requiring re-operation, 1 chylothorax, 1 pulmonary embolism, 2 late cicatricial bronchial stenosis after sleeve lobectomy treated successfully by laser therapy. Four patients (4.5%) were treated with endoscopy plus surgery. In all that patients a Laser Nd-YAG coagulation and excision of the lesion was performed. Four patients (4.5%) were treated only with endoscopy, overall because of bad general condition. On the basis of the hystopatological documentation of all patients operated before 1999 (60 patients) the authors observed that in 4 cases (6.6%) the diagnosis has changed from AC to TC while only 1 case (1.6%) of AC was classified as TC with new criterias. During median 122-month follow-up 7 relapses (8.2%) were diagnosed in operated patients; recurrent cancer developed preferentially in AC (N=4, 16.6%) than TC (N=3, 4.9%). The overall survival at 10 and 15 years was 92% and 82% respectively.

Conclusions: Anatomical resection, including formal lobectomy (or pneumonectomy when indicated) and radical mediastinal lymphadenectomy, should be performed in carcinoid tumours.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Carcinoid Tumor / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoid Tumor / surgery
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Lymph Node Excision / methods
  • Male
  • Mediastinum
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonectomy / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult