Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors

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If you have been diagnosed with carcinoid tumors of the digestive tract, City of Hope can offer you comprehensive, multidisciplinary care from experts offering the newest and best treatments for this rare disease. And our commitment to high quality, personalized care means we place your concerns and quality of life at the center of your treatment.

Our world-class team of specialists can answer your questions, address your concerns, and deliver personalized, innovative treatments against the disease.

Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumor Clinical Trials and Research

By collaborating with other departments and cancer centers, City of Hope’s gastrointestinal carcinoid cancer program has developed a large and active portfolio of clinical trials studying new treatments, including surgery, radiation and drug therapy regimens that are more effective against this disease. Many of these promising therapies are only available to City of Hope patients.


City of Hope's internationally recognized gastrointestinal cancer experts work together on a multidisciplinary team to provide you with care designed to extend and improve your life. And getting care here means you will have access to some of the most promising new therapies as part of our clinical trials program.

Highlights of our GI carcinoid tumor program include:

  • Minimally invasive procedures, including laparoscopic and robotic surgery, that result in less pain and quicker recovery
  • Advanced endoscopic procedures for early stage disease, including endoscopic mucosal resection and endoscopic submucosal dissection
  • Genetic testing and customized drug therapy tailored to the molecular profile of GI carcinoid cancer
  • Clinical trials, including combining immunotherapy with radiation therapy, to bolster the immune system response to fighting cancer
  • Palliative procedures designed to improve quality of life

City of Hope’s team of surgeons, gastroenterologists, medical oncologists, nurses, radiologists, and genetic and nutritional counselors work together closely at all stages to provide seamless, coordinated care. We balance that approach with personalized medicine — not just when it comes to your cancer, but the kind that makes you feel supported throughout your treatment.

Top cancer hospital

City of Hope is internationally recognized for its research and breakthrough treatments, has been named one of America’s top cancer hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for more than 10 years running and is a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.

Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors form in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum. Approximately 8,000 of those cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

How gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors develop

Gastrointestinal (GI) carcinoid tumors start in the neuroendocrine system, which is made up of cells that resemble nerve cells and hormone-making cells in the gastrointestinal tract. These cells control the production of digestive juices and the muscles that guide food and waste through the stomach and intestines. Cells in this system are not concentrated in a particular organ; they are found in several areas of the body but tend to be concentrated in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Like other types of cancer, GI carcinoid tumors form when abnormal neuroendocrine cells grow uncontrollably, joining together to form a growth called a tumor. GI carcinoid tumors are rare and grow very slowly.

What increases your risk of GI carcinoid tumors?

  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 is a rare condition caused by inherited abnormalities in a gene called MEN1 that increases the risk of developing tumors in the pituitary, pancreatic and parathryoid glands.
  • Neurofibromatosis type 1 is caused by problems with the NF1 gene and can lead to developing benign tumors called neurofibromas.
  • Conditions that affect stomach acid production, such as atrophic gastritis, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and pernicious anemia, may increase risk.
  • Race and gender: African-Americans are more likely than other groups to develop GI carcinoid tumors and, overall, women have a slightly higher risk than men of developing carcinoid tumors.
  • Other medical conditions, including diseases affecting stomach acid production, may result in an increased risk of developing carcinoid tumors in the stomach.

GI carcinoid cancer symptoms

Symptoms associated with GI carcinoid tumors depend on what area of the gastrointestinal system is affected. In some areas, these tumors build up and cause no symptoms while in others, the symptoms can be significant, including:

Other medical conditions share these symptoms. If you are treated for these conditions and they do not go away, you may need further consultation to rule out GI cancer.

City of Hope physicians are committed to finding and treating GI carcinoid tumors in the earliest stages. If you are concerned about persistent and troubling gastrointestinal symptoms — or you have a family history or genetic risk of GI cancer — you may require a consultation. Our team of internationally trained gastric specialists use their clinical expertise and leading-edge technology to provide you with the most accurate diagnosis — and the most effective treatment.

Tests to diagnose GI carcinoid tumors

  • Upper endoscopy, the main test to diagnose GI cancers, uses a thin tube with a camera at the end to visualize the esophagus, stomach and duodenum to check for abnormal areas. This procedure may be performed with an ultrasound.
  • Endoscopic biopsy involves removing tissue or cells to be viewed later under a microscope by a pathologist, and usually is done during an endoscopy.                                                               
  • Blood chemistry studies may be ordered to check whether you are anemic. Anemia may be a result of bleeding, liver problems or poor nutrition related to cancer.

If cancer is suspected we may perform other tests to better visualize the cancer and determine if it has spread:

  • Endoscopic ultrasound is a small tube with a probe at the end that uses sound waves to construct a detailed image of the gastrointestinal tract and surrounding organs. EUS may be used to evaluate abnormal findings on previous tests.
  • A CT scan takes a series of pictures inside the body from different angles to determine if cancer has spread.

A PET/CT scan is a procedure in which a positron emission tomography scan and computed tomography scan are done at the same time. It involves injecting radioactive glucose and seeing where in the body it is used most, since malignant tumors need more glucose than normal cells.

City of Hope’s approach to treating gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors starts with a coordinated, multidisciplinary care team whose main goals are helping you live a long, healthy, cancer-free life.

Leading-edge treatment

Your care team will discuss a plan that may involve a combination of treatments including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Treatments available to our patients include:

  • Robotic surgery for highly precise surgery with smaller incisions, less pain and quicker recovery time
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection, an advanced minimally invasive endoscopic procedure that is used to treat early gastric cancers with smaller lesions
  • Endoscopic submucosal dissection, a newer technique that can remove larger lesions at one time when compared with EMR
  • Precision medicine approaches for late-stage disease, designed to provide treatment tailored to individual patients’ cancers
  • Clinical trials that are finding new drug therapies and combinations to treat advanced cases
  • State-of-the-art diagnostic tools including 3-D CT scans and endoscopic ultrasound
  • Ultra-precise radiation therapy including helical TomoTherapy and brachytherapy to target tumors and preserve healthy tissue

Comprehensive care

City of Hope is an acknowledged leader in GI carcinoid tumor research and treatment. We are one of only a few dozen centers in the country that treat GI tumors using a comprehensive approach — by a team whose sole focus is treating this type of cancer. Your care includes regular interaction and input from a team that includes surgeons, oncologists, gastroenterologists, radiologists and pathologists — along with nurses, social workers, nutritionists and specially trained support staff. And we provide nutritional counseling, physical therapy and spiritual support at all stages of treatment.

City of Hope’s renowned physicians and researchers use the latest in technology and innovation to treat cancer, coupled with our enduring belief in providing unparalleled compassionate care. If you have been diagnosed with gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.

Colon and Rectal Surgery

Stephen M. Sentovich, M.D., M.B.A.

Clinical Specialties

  • Colon and Rectal Surgery


Dheeraj Lal, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Clinical Specialties

  • Gastroenterology
James L. Lin, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Gastroenterology

Medical Oncology

Vincent Chung, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Clinical Specialties

  • Medical Oncology
Marwan G. Fakih, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Medical Oncology
Daneng Li, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Medical Oncology
Dean W. Lim, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Medical Oncology

Radiation Oncology

Yi-Jen Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Radiation Oncology

Surgical Oncology

Lily Lau Lai, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Clinical Specialties

  • Surgical Oncology
Laleh Melstrom, M.D., M.S., F.A.C.S.

Clinical Specialties

  • Surgical Oncology
  • Liver Cancer and Metastases
  • Pancreas Cancer
  • Gallbladder Cancer and Bile Duct Cancer
  • Robotic Minimally Invasive Surgery


Clinical trials – research studies that involve volunteer patients – are a crucial component to developing new, more effective treatments that save lives. Many of today’s standard therapies are based on the results of previous trials, some of which were initiated at City of Hope.

Getting treated for GI carcinoid tumors at City of Hope means you are steps away from labs where new treatments for cancer are being developed every day. That proximity means you benefit from something unique in cancer care — bench to bedside treatment. “Bench to bedside” means innovative research we are conducting in our labs is moved quickly to the bedside to treat our patients. Click the link above for access to our leading-edge clinical trials.

When you come to City of Hope, you automatically gain access to an unparalleled array of support services to help you and your family cope with each challenge in your GI cancer diagnosis and treatment. We can help with all of these concerns, and more:

  • Poor appetite and trouble eating/drinking
  • Managing pain, fatigue, nausea
  • Adjusting to new diet and lifestyle habits
  • Your emotional, social and spiritual well-being
  • Palliative care
  • Staying healthy and active
  • Healthy cooking and eating
  • Healing arts
  • Caregiver skills
  • Dealing with family stress
  • Navigating the health care system

Learn more about these resources at our Living with Cancer or Supportive Care Medicine sites.

Support the Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Cancer Program

It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts more than 100 years ago. Their efforts − and those of our supporters today − have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables us to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies − helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact us below.

Joe Komsky
Senior Philanthropy Officer
Phone: 626-218-6291
Email: [email protected]

Or, you can make a gift to support all the research at City of Hope by donating online.