Cancer is complex — there is no routine gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor, nor is there ever a routine way to treat it.

The OSUCCC – James physicians are nationally and internationally renowned in research and patient care for their one particular cancer. Because of that expertise and understanding of cancer’s complexities and how it acts and reacts differently in each person, the very best outcomes — and the most effective means of treating cancer patients — come from a team approach.

At the OSUCCC – James, gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor patients have a team of experts that includes medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, geneticists, gastroenterologists, hepatologists, nutritionists and more. Also on that team are gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor researchers who help sequence tumors to identify key molecules that fuel each patient’s cancer and who then develop drugs that target only those particular molecules. Many of our experts also help write the national clinical guidelines for treatments.

As one of only a few cancer centers in the country funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to more clinical trials than nearly any other cancer hospital in the country and to more of the latest, most targeted, most effective treatment options — many that are available nowhere else but at the OSUCCC – James.

There are several types of treatment for gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors. The OSUCCC – James team of subspecialists determine the best treatment for each patient based on his or her specific, individual gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor. Patients may receive one treatment or a combination of treatments.

Treatment Options

The following treatments are available to treat gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors:


Surgery is the treatment chosen most often to treat gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors. There are several different types of surgeries including:

Endoscopic Resection

This is a type of surgery that removes small tumors lining the GI tract. An endoscope — a thin, flexible tube with a light and tool used to remove tumors — is inserted into the mouth into the stomach and small intestine where the tumor is removed.

Local Excision

A type of surgery to remove any tumor and a small amount of tissue surrounding it.


A type of surgery to remove part, or all, of any organ that contains cancer. Lymph nodes may also be removed.

Cryoablation (Cryosurgery)

A type of procedure in which cancer cells and the tissue immediately around them are frozen and destroyed using liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide.

Radiofrequency Ablation

A probe is inserted into cancerous tissue that delivers high-frequency radio waves (similar to microwaves) to heat the tumor and destroy it.

Liver Transplant

A surgery to remove the whole liver. For some patients, a transplant may be the best treatment option. If a donor is not available right away and the patient is on a waiting list, they may receive other treatments while they are waiting. Doctors will only recommend a transplant if the tumor cannot be removed by surgery.

Hepatic Artery Embolization

Embolization therapy decreases or blocks blood flow to the tumor, by decreasing blood flow through the main artery (hepatic artery) to the liver. Reducing or blocking blood flow to a tumor can stop or limit its growth.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses X-rays to reach and destroy cancer cells. Radiation is often used to treat specific areas of the body.

Radiopharmaceutical therapy is one type of radiation therapy. Radiation is given to the tumor using a drug that has a radioactive substance, such as iodine I 131, attached to it. The radioactive substance kills the tumor cells.


Chemotherapy uses specialized drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by destroying the cells or by preventing them from making new cells. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.


This procedure may be used if a gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor has spread to the liver. An anticancer drug is injected into the hepatic artery, the main artery leading to the liver, to cut off blood flow to the tumor. The tumor often shrinks or stops growing as a result.

Hormone Therapy

Hormones are produced by glands in the body and circulated in the bloodstream to regulate bodily functions.

Patients with gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors may receive hormone therapy to stop excess hormones from being made by gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor cells. The drugs octreotide or lanreotide are injected under the skin or into the muscle and help slow down the growth of the tumors.

Treatment for Carcinoid Syndrome

Treatment of carcinoid syndrome may include the following:

Hormone Therapy

A type of treatment in which hormones may be used to stop or block the action of other hormones. Somatostatin can stop extra hormones from being made.Carcinoid syndrome may be treated with octreotide or lanreotide to lessen flushing and diarrhea.

Interferon Therapy

A type of therapy that can boost or stimulate the body’s immune system. This type of therapy also may help lessen symptoms such as flushing and diarrhea.

These therapies may also slow the tumor’s growth.

Other strategies for treating carcinoid syndrome may include:

  • Taking medicine for diarrhea, skin rashes and to help patients breathe easier
  • Taking medicine before having anesthesia for a medical procedure
  • Avoiding alcohol, nuts, certain cheeses and foods with capsaicin such as chili peppers. These are all things that can cause flushing or difficulty breathing.
  • Avoiding stressful situations and certain types of physical activity

For some patients with carcinoid heart syndrome, a heart valve replacement may be a recommended treatment.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Research & Clinical Trials

For cancer patients, clinical trials mean hope. Hope for a cancer-free world and for better, more targeted ways to prevent, detect, treat and cure individual cancers.

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

The OSUCCC – James has more than 500 open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients have access to more cancer clinical trials here than at nearly any other hospital in the region as well as access to some of the most advanced, targeted treatments and drugs available.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only a few U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results.

Additionally, Ohio State has nearly 300 cancer researchers dedicated to understanding what makes each patient’s cancer grow, move, metastasize or reoccur. Because of the OSUCCC – James’ NCI phase I and phase II approvals, these experts can move research discoveries into clinical trials and make them available to patients sooner.

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 here 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

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