What happens when gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors reach the liver?

Ajay K. Sahajpal, MD
Transplant Surgery

Gastrointestinal carcinoids such as small bowel carcinoids tend to release hormones such as serotonin. Once spread to the liver, the hormones avoid being "filtered" by the liver so get released into the circulation and may cause flushing or diarrhea along with some cardiac valve scarring. These should be evaluated for treatment with local therapy such as embolization/ablation and surgery along with medical treatment with sandostatin treatment to decrease hormone release.

A gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor often has no signs in its early stages. Carcinoid syndrome may occur if the tumor spreads to the liver or other parts of the body.

The hormones produced by gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors are usually destroyed by blood and liver enzymes. If the tumor has spread to the liver, however, high amounts of these hormones may remain in the body and cause the following group of symptoms, called carcinoid syndrome:

Redness or a feeling of warmth in the face and neck. Diarrhea. Shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, tiredness, or swelling of the feet and ankles. Wheezing. Pain or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen. These symptoms and others may be caused by gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors or by other conditions. A doctor should be consulted if any of these symptoms occur.

This answer is based on source information from theNational Cancer Institute.

Continue Learning about Carcinoid Tumor, Gastrointestinal

Where do gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors usually appear?
UCLA HealthUCLA Health
Most commonly, gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors grow in the small intestine, appendix, or rectum. T...
More Answers
What happens if my gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor comes back?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
If a gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor regrows, you will probably need surgery to remove it again. If...
More Answers
What are the stages of gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors are classified by stage, and stages are determined by how advanced...
More Answers
Are gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors serious?
Ajay K. Sahajpal, MDAjay K. Sahajpal, MD
Gastrointestinal carcinoids are often slow growing tumors, however they can be serious as they grow ...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.