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Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumor of the Appendix

A type of neuroendocrine tumor, carcinoid tumors are the most common malignancy found in the appendix. Carcinoid tumors make up approximately half of all appendix cancers and occur in women more often than in men. When found early, a carcinoid tumor of the appendix can be highly treatable.

Appendix carcinoid tumor symptoms

The majority of appendiceal carcinoid tumors develop in the tip of the appendix. When that happens, these tumors do not typically cause symptoms because they do not create an obstruction. About 10% of the time, however, appendix carcinoid tumors form in the base of the appendix, where they can cause symptoms of acute appendicitis, such as:

  • Severe or persistent abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distention or bloating/swelling
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Pain in the lower right abdomen
  • Feeling full quickly when eating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting following abdominal pain
  • Fever

Because appendiceal carcinoid tumors rarely cause symptoms, they typically go unnoticed and are incidentally discovered during an exam or procedure, such as an appendectomy, that is done for other purposes.

Treatment for gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors in the appendix

Surgery is the most common treatment for appendiceal carcinoid tumors. Because neuroendocrine tumors are generally slow growing, an appendectomy alone is often sufficient treatment. Larger, or more advanced lesions, however, may require more extensive surgery, such as removing a portion of the colon adjacent to the appendix, or other treatment options, like chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, our Gastrointestinal Oncology Program comprises a multispecialty team focused on the diagnosis and treatment of appendiceal cancer, including carcinoid tumors. Together, this team creates an individualized treatment plan for every patient to ensure the best possible outcome and quality of life. To consult with an oncologist specializing in appendix carcinoid tumors, call Moffitt at 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. Referrals are not required to visit Moffitt Cancer Center.