Carcinoid lung tumors--incidence, treatment and outcomes: a population-based study

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2011 Apr;39(4):565-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcts.2010.08.036.


Objective: Few published reports have examined the incidence and outcomes for patients with carcinoid lung tumors. The aim of the current study was to explore incidence, type of surgical treatment given, and outcome for patients with typical (TC) and atypical (AC) lung carcinoids in a national cohort (Norway).

Methods: All lung-cancer patients diagnosed in the period 1993-2005 and who were reported to the Cancer Registry of Norway were identified. Biopsies or resection specimens were reviewed and reclassified according to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2004 classification. Surgically treated patients were staged according to the seventh edition of the pathological tumor-node-metastasis (pTNM) staging system.

Results: Of 26665 lung cancers registered during the period, 265 (1%) had carcinoid tumors, of which 11 were diagnosed coincidentally at autopsy. In the remaining 254 patients, TCs were found in 188 cases, and ACs were found in 59 cases; seven cases had unclassifiable carcinoids. Of the 217 resected tumors, 173 (80%) were TCs. General surgeons performed 94 resections, including 11 of 17 pneumonectomies. All six bronchial resections were performed by thoracic surgeons. Of the 33 operated patients who died during follow-up, 18 had metastatic carcinoid tumors, of which 10 (56%) were ACs. In 37 non-resected patients (15 with AC and seven with unclassifiable histology), metastatic or locally advanced disease (N=21, 12 of which were ACs) was the main cause of inoperability and death. Five-year survival for all patients was 92% for TC and 66% for AC; for resected patients, the survival rates were 96% and 79%, respectively.

Conclusions: Carcinoids are rare malignant tumors and are, in most cases, resectable; the TC subgroup had better prognosis than the AC in univariate analyses. The main cause of death was metastasis/locally advanced tumor at presentation or recurrent disease following resection; both situations were three times more common in patients with AC.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Needle / statistics & numerical data
  • Bronchoscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Carcinoid Tumor / mortality*
  • Carcinoid Tumor / pathology
  • Carcinoid Tumor / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Incidental Findings
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality*
  • Prognosis