A carcinoid tumour is a type of neuroendocrine tumour, which means it starts in cells of the neuroendocrine system that make hormones, such as:

  • Gastrointestinal tract (such as stomach and intestines)
  • Lungs
  • Pancreas
  • Testicles (in males) or ovaries (in females)

As a result the tumour itself may produce hormones, causing serious illness, but a carcinoid tumour can grow slowly for many years without causing significant symptoms. More than one carcinoid tumour can occur within the same organ.

It is not known what causes carcinoid tumours, but the following factors may raise a person’s risk of developing a carcinoid tumour:

  • Family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 1(MEN1) increases the risk of developing tumours in the pituitary gland, parathyroid, and pancreas
  • Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumours are more common among black people than white people, and black men have a higher risk than black women. Among white people, men and women have the same risk. Race and gender are not a significant risk factor in lung carcinoid tumours
  • The average age at diagnosis is between 40 and 65, depending on the type of carcinoid tumour.
    People with diseases that damage the stomach and reduce acid production (especially pernicious anaemia) have a greater risk of developing a stomach carcinoid tumour