Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumor Treatment Appproaches

Different types of treatment are available for patients with gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors.

Surgery
Surgery is the primary treatment used for localized tumors. When applicable, our specialists utilize minimally invasive surgery (MIS) with advanced technologies such as laparoscopy and the new da Vinci S Surgical System with robotic capabilities that allows for greater precision. These surgeries feature small incisions and potentially:
  • Less blood loss, pain and visible incisions
  • Shorter hospital stays and recovery time
  • Fewer complications and quicker return to normal activities

 

One of the following surgical procedures may be used:

  • Appendectomy: Removal of the appendix.
  • Fulguration: Use of an electric current to burn away the tumor using a special tool.
  • Cryosurgery: Also called cryotherapy, this is a treatment that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue.
  • Resection: Surgery to remove part or all of the organ that contains cancer. Resection of the tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it is called a local excision.
  • Bowel resection and anastomosis: Removal of the bowel tumor and a small section of healthy bowel on each side. The healthy parts of the bowel are then sewn together (anastomosis). Lymph nodes are removed and checked by a pathologist to see if they contain cancer.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: The use of a special probe with tiny electrodes that release high-energy radio waves (similar to microwaves) that kill cancer cells. The probe may be inserted through the skin or through an incision (cut) in the abdomen.
  • Hepatic resection: Surgery to remove part of the liver.
  • Hepatic artery ligation or embolization: A procedure to ligate (tie off) or embolize (block) the hepatic artery, the main blood vessel that brings blood into the liver. Blocking the flow of blood to the liver helps kills cancer cells growing there.

 

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. Our Department of Radiation Oncology was the first in the western United States to offer the Helical TomoTherapy Hi-Art System, one of the first radiation therapy systems of its kind to incorporate not only radiation therapy, but also tumor imaging capabilities comparable to a diagnostic computed tomography (CT) scan.

Two types of technology are integrated – spiral CT scanning and intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT – thus producing hundreds of pencil beams of radiation (each varying in intensity) that rotate spirally around a tumor. The high-dose region of radiation can be shaped or sculpted to fit the exact shape of each patient’s tumor, resulting in more effective and potentially curative doses to the cancer. This also reduces damage to normal tissues and results in fewer complications.

Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy – the use of anticancer medicines – includes a wide range of drugs and treatment strategies to treat gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors.

City of Hope provides both standard chemotherapies as well as access to newly developed drugs through an extensive program of clinical trials.

As part of the treatment team, a medical oncologist will evaluate the best options, so that a course of chemotherapy, if appropriate, can be tailored to the patient.