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Bronchial Carcinoid


Robert L. Keith

, MD, Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critial Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Eastern Colorado VA Healthcare System, University of Colorado

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020

Bronchial carcinoids are rare, slow-growing tumors of the lining of the airways (bronchi).

Carcinoid tumors (sometimes called neuroendocrine tumors) usually originate in hormone-producing cells that line the small intestine or other parts of the digestive tract, but they can also occur in the passageways in the lungs (bronchi) and in other organs. Bronchial carcinoid tumors are more likely to be malignant than carcinoid tumors in most other organs but are less likely to actively produce hormones (see Carcinoid Syndrome)

Bronchial carcinoids most often affect people ages 40 to 60 years.

Symptoms of Bronchial Carcinoid

About half of people with bronchial carcinoids have no symptoms. Other people have symptoms related to the blockage of the airways. Such symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, and cough. Recurrent pneumonia, coughing up blood, and chest pain are also common.

Carcinoid tumors, including bronchial carcinoids, are among the cancers that cause paraneoplastic syndromes. Paraneoplastic (accompanying cancer) syndromes occur when a cancer causes unusual symptoms due to substances that it makes and secretes into the bloodstream. Symptoms arise from various tissues and organs distant from the tumor. Bronchial carcinoids most typically cause the following:

Carcinoid syndrome occurs in less than 3% of people with bronchial carcinoids.

A left-sided heart murmur (due to serotonin-induced damage of the mitral valve) occurs rarely in people with bronchial carcinoids.

Diagnosis of Bronchial Carcinoid

  • Bronchoscopy

Diagnosis of bronchial carcinoid is based on bronchoscopy, but chest computed tomography (CT) and radionuclide scanning may be done to determine whether the tumor has spread.

Treatment of Bronchial Carcinoid

  • Surgery
  • Sometimes chemotherapy or radiation therapy

Treatment of bronchial carcinoid is with surgical removal with or without chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

Prognosis depends on tumor type.

More Information about Bronchial Carcinoid

The following are English language resources that provide information and support for patients and their caregivers. THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

  • American Cancer Society: General information on all types of cancer, including prevention, testing, treatments and information for people living with cancer and their caregivers
  • American Cancer Society: Lung Carcinoids: Specific information from ACS on lung carcinoids, including types and and treatment
  • American Lung Association: General information on all types of lung diseases, including lung cancer and quitting smoking
  • CancerCare: General information about all types of cancer, including resources for counseling and support groups
  • CancerCare: Lung Cancer: More specific information from Cancer Care for people with lung cancer, including support services and links to additional resources
  • National Cancer Institute: U. S. government resource on cancer, including research updates and information on clinical trials
  • National Cancer Institute: Lung Cancer: More specific information from the NCI on lung cancer, especially advances in treatment and the latest research findings
  • National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship: Advocates for high quality care for all people with cancer

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