Background: Carcinoid tumors are unusual and most reports are anecdotal or limited in number. A series of 2837 cases was published in 1975. No recent large series is available.
Methods: The authors evaluated 5468 cases identified by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) from 1973 to 1991 together with 2837 carcinoid cases previously registered by 2 earlier NCI programs. To the authors' knowledge, the 8305 carcinoid tumors analyzed represent the largest current epidemiology series to date.
Results: The most frequent sites for carcinoids were the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (73.7%) and the bronchopulmonary system (25.1%). Within the GI tract, most occurred in the small bowel (28.7%), appendix (18.9%), and rectum (12.6%). For all sites, age-adjusted incidence rates were highest in African American males (2.12 per 100,000 population per year). Associated noncarcinoid tumors were frequent in conjunction with small intestinal (16.6%), appendiceal (14.6%), and colonic carcinoids (13.1%). The highest percentage of nonlocalized lesions were noted for pancreatic (76.1%), colonic (71.2%), and small intestinal carcinoids (70.7%) and this corresponded to their poor 5-year survival rates (34.1%, 41.6%, and 55.4%, respectively). The best 5-year survival rates were recorded for appendiceal (85.9%), bronchopulmonary (76.6%), and rectal carcinoids (72.2%). These exhibited invasive growth or metastatic spread in only 35.4%, 27.2%, and 14.2% of cases, respectively.
Conclusions: Carcinoids appear to have increased in incidence in the past 20 years. In part, this may be due to different surgical rules of the various registries, improved diagnostic technology, and increased awareness. A cumulative analysis of all types of carcinoid tumors in the SEER group indicates that in 45.3% metastases are already evident at the time of diagnosis. The overall 5-year survival rate of all carcinoid tumors regardless of site was 50.4% +/- 6.4%.