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Bronchial Carcinoid

By Anne S. Tsao, MD, Associate Professor and Director, Mesothelioma Program; Director, Thoracic Chemo-Radiation Program, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

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

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


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.


  • Bronchoscopy

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


  • Surgery

  • Sometimes chemotherapy or radiation therapy

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

Prognosis depends on tumor type.

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