Carcinoid Tumor: Risk Factors

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing this type of tumor. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. However, knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

The cause of carcinoid tumors is unknown, and no avoidable risk factors have been found. Lung carcinoid tumors are not caused by or related to smoking.

The following factors may raise a person’s risk of developing a carcinoid tumor:

Family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1. Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is a hereditary condition that increases the risk of developing tumors in the pituitary gland, parathyroid gland, and pancreas. It is estimated that approximately 10% of gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors are associated with MEN1.

Race and gender. Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors are more common among black people than white people, and black men have a higher risk than black women. Among white people, men and women have the same risk. Race and gender are not a significant risk factor in lung carcinoid tumors, but women tend to live longer after treatment.

Age. For gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors, the average age at diagnosis is 55 to 65. For carcinoid tumors of the appendix, the average age at diagnosis is about 40. For lung carcinoid tumors, the average age at diagnosis is between 45 and 55. Children rarely develop carcinoid tumors.

Other stomach conditions. People with diseases that damage the stomach and reduce acid production have a greater risk of developing a stomach carcinoid tumor. In particular, people with pernicious anemia, a type of anemia in which a person has very large, malformed red blood cells, have a higher risk of developing a stomach carcinoid tumor.

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