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Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2003 Dec;3(6):863-77.

Diagnosis and treatment of carcinoid tumors.

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Department of Endocrine Oncology, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.


Carcinoid tumors belong to the family of neuroendocrine tumors, which are usually slow growing with distinct biological and clinical characteristics. The incidence of these tumors is approximately 2.5 in 100,000 people per year. The former classification system of foregut, midgut and hindgut tumors is still used in clinical routine, although there is a new World Health Organization classification. Determination of the histopathology of carcinoid tumors is of utmost importance and involves specific immunohistochemical staining for chromogranin A, synaptophysin, serotonin and gastrin. Proliferation capacity measured by Ki67 is used to guide forthcoming medical treatment. Localization procedures include computerized tomography, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, somatostatin receptor scintigraphy and positron emission tomography. Surgery remains the cornerstone of treatment and provides the only chance of a cure. Other cytoreductive procedures include radiofrequency ablation, laser treatment and chemoembolization. Biological treatment includes cytotoxic agents, such as somatostatin analogs and interferon-alpha, which should be applied in slow-growing neoplasms. Combination regimens including cisplatin, etoposide, streptozotocin and 5-fluorouracil should be reserved for treatment of highly proliferating tumors. Future therapy of carcinoid tumors will be based on the specific tumor biology and treatment will be customized for each individual patient. New therapies, such as antiangiogenic agents and new, long-acting somatostatin analogs, together with further development of tumor-targeted treatments, will come into clinical use in the near future.

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