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      Complications of Midgut Carcinoid Tumors and Carcinoid Syndrome

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          The carcinoid syndrome, associated with carcinoid tumors of the midgut, consists of symptoms such as diarrhea, flushing, wheezing and cardiovascular symptoms. This review focuses on these symptoms and discusses therapeutic options. The symptoms are caused by the secretion of biogenic amines, polypeptides and other factors of which serotonin is the most prominent. However, diarrhea is also due to factors such as malabsorption. Besides antitumor therapy, more specific interventions such as serotonin receptor blockers can be useful. The carcinoid heart disease involves the tricuspid and pulmonary valve. In the pathogenesis, serotonin plays a central role. The therapeutic approach is mostly symptomatic. Other cardiovascular complications include bowel ischemia and hypertension. Pellagra and psychiatric symptoms are due to a depletion of tryptophan, which is consumed by the carcinoid tumor for serotonin synthesis. Finally, follow-up and clinical practice of patients with carcinoid tumors are discussed.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Treatment of the malignant carcinoid syndrome. Evaluation of a long-acting somatostatin analogue.

          We studied the effects of a long-acting analogue of somatostatin (SMS 201-995, Sandoz) in 25 patients with histologically proved metastatic carcinoid tumors and the carcinoid syndrome. This drug was self-administered by subcutaneous injection at a dose of 150 micrograms three times daily. Flushing and diarrhea associated with the syndrome were promptly relieved in 22 patients. All 25 patients had an elevated 24-hour urinary excretion of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) (mean, 265 mg per 24 hours; range, 14 to 1079), which served as an objective indicator of disease activity. Eighteen of the 25 patients (72 percent) had a decrease of 50 percent or more in their urinary 5-HIAA levels, as compared with the pretreatment values. The median duration of this biochemical response was more than 12 months (range, 1 to greater than 18). Since no serious toxicity was observed, we conclude that SMS 201-995 may be appropriate for use as early therapy in patients with symptoms due to the carcinoid syndrome who have not responded to simpler measures.
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            Pellagra: Dermatitis, dementia, and diarrhea

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              Effects of leukocyte interferon on clinical symptoms and hormone levels in patients with mid-gut carcinoid tumors and carcinoid syndrome.

               K Oberg,  G Alm,  K Funa (1983)
              We treated nine patients who had carcinoid tumors of the small intestine, six of whom had the carcinoid syndrome, with daily intramuscular doses of leukocyte interferon--3 X 10(6) U per day for one month and 6 X 10(6) U per day for another two months. Seven patients had previously been treated with streptozocin and fluorouracil, without benefit. Treatment with interferon ameliorated the manifestations of the carcinoid syndrome and led to prompt and continuing decreases in urinary levels of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid and serum levels of human chorionic gonadotropin subunits and pancreatic polypeptide in all six patients with liver metastases, but it had no clear effect in two of three patients with only lymph-node involvement. After the treatment period, five of the six responders had relapses in clinical manifestations and increases in hormone levels. We conclude that interferon is of benefit in treating metastatic small intestinal carcinoid tumors in patients with the carcinoid syndrome.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                October 2004
                15 October 2004
                : 80
                : Suppl 1
                : 28-32
                Departments of aMedical Oncology, bEndocrinology and cLaboratory Medicine, University Hospital Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
                80737 Neuroendocrinology 2004;80(suppl 1):28–32
                © 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 1, References: 55, Pages: 5


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