There is no such thing as routine gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors. Every patient’s gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors are different, with different, individually unique genes and molecules driving each person’s specific cancer.

At the OSUCCC – James, our gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor specialists are world-renowned cancer experts who focus solely on gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors and who reach across medical disciplines (oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, pharmacists, gastroenterologists, hepatologists, and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

And by offering access to the country’s most advanced clinical trials right here at the OSUCCC – James, patients know that additional options, when needed, are often available for their treatment and care.

Facts About Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors

The GI tract is responsible for digesting food, absorbing nutrients and water and eliminating waste from the body. It comprises several organs including the stomach, large and small intestine and rectum.

The GI tract contains neuroendocrine cells, which are a hybrid between nerve cells and hormone-making cells. Neuroendocrine cells produce hormones that help control digestive juices and the muscles that help food move through the stomach and small intestine. 

Multiple gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors may form simultaneously. These tumors grow slowly and often do not produce symptoms or cause problems for a long time. They are often found coincidentally during a diagnosis for another tumor or during surgery for appendicitis.

Gastrointestinal Cancer Carcinoid Anatomy

Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Symptoms

In early stages, some gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors do not cause any symptoms, though symptoms may develop if the tumor grows or begins to overproduce hormones. Tumors in the stomach may not produce symptoms, but tumors within the small intestine may.

Most gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors affect the small intestine. Symptoms vary depending on where the tumors are within this organ. The following symptoms are broken down by area of the small intestine:


The duodenum is the first part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach. Signs and symptoms of GI carcinoid tumors in the duodenum may include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in stool color
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Heartburn

Jejunum & Ileum

The jejunum is the middle part of the small intestine and the ileum is the last part of the small intestine that connects to the colon. Signs and symptoms of GI carcinoid tumors in the jejunum and ileum may include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Feeling very tired
  • Feeling bloated
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Signs and symptoms of GI carcinoid tumors in the colon may include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss for no known reason


Signs and symptoms of GI carcinoid tumors in the rectum may include the following:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Pain in the rectum
  • Constipation

Carcinoid Syndrome

Carcinoid syndrome occurs if gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors spread to the liver or to other parts of the body. Carcinoid syndrome occurs in fewer than 20 percent of patients with carcinoid tumors.

Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors make hormones that are normally metabolized by liver enzymes. If these tumors spread to the liver, the liver cannot function properly and enzymes cannot destroy the extra hormones made by the tumor.

As a result, extra hormones accumulate in the blood, causing carcinoid syndrome. This may also occur if tumor cells enter the blood.

Signs and symptoms of carcinoid syndrome include the following:

  • Redness or a feeling of warmth in the face and neck
  • Abdominal pain
  • Feeling bloated
  • Diarrhea
  • Wheezing or other trouble breathing
  • Fast heartbeat

Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have a gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor. But if you have symptoms, you should tell your doctor, especially if symptoms have continued for longer than a few weeks.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)


If you have received a gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor diagnosis, or if you want a second opinion or just want to speak to a gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor specialist, we are eager to help you. Call 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066

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