Diagnosis

Tests and procedures used to diagnose carcinoid tumors include:

  • Blood tests. If you have a carcinoid tumor, your blood may contain high levels of hormones secreted by a carcinoid tumor or byproducts created when those hormones are broken down by the body.
  • Urine tests. People with carcinoid tumors have excess levels of a chemical in their urine that's produced when the body breaks down hormones secreted by carcinoid tumors.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests, including a computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), octreotide scan and X-ray, may help your doctor pinpoint the carcinoid tumor's location.
  • A scope or camera that sees inside your body. Your doctor may use a long, thin tube equipped with a lens or camera to examine areas inside your body.

    An endoscopy, which involves passing a scope down your throat, may help your doctor see inside your gastrointestinal tract. Bronchoscopy, using a scope passed down your throat and into your lungs, can help find lung carcinoid tumors. Passing a scope through your rectum (colonoscopy) can help diagnose rectal carcinoid tumors.

    To see inside your small intestine, your doctor may recommend a test using a pill-sized camera that you swallow (capsule endoscopy).

  • Removing tissue for laboratory testing. A sample of tissue from the tumor (biopsy) may be collected to confirm your diagnosis. What type of biopsy you'll undergo depends on where your tumor is located.

    In some cases a surgeon may use a needle to draw cells out of the tumor. In other cases, a biopsy may be collected during surgery. The tissue is sent to a laboratory for testing to determine the types of cells in the tumor and how aggressive those cells appear under the microscope.

Dec. 03, 2015
References
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  2. Neuroendocrine tumors. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Aug. 5, 2015.
  3. Feldman M, et al. Neuroendocrine tumors. In: Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 5, 2015.
  4. Goldman L, et al., eds. Neuroendocrine tumors and the carcinoid syndrome. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 28, 2015.
  5. Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/types/gi-carcinoid-tumors/patient/gi-carcinoid-treatment-pdq. Accessed Aug. 28, 2015.
  6. AskMayoExpert. Neuroendocrine cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.