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What Is Carcinoid Syndrome?

Carcinoid syndrome is caused by carcinoid tumors that most commonly arise in the mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract. Carcinoid syndrome is the set of symptoms that may occur in patients who have carcinoid tumors. Not all people with carcinoid tumors have carcinoid syndrome. The syndrome occurs when carcinoid tumors overproduce substances such as serotonin that normally circulate throughout your body. This overproduction of serotonin and other hormones is what causes the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome.

Carcinoid Syndrome
Carcinoid tumors may arise in many locations, but they are most commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract or the lungs.

Other (non-carcinoid) tumors can also cause symptoms similar to those of carcinoid syndrome. These can include tumors in the duodenum and the lung. Another such tumor is called a VIPoma. "VIP" stands for Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide. VIPomas are extremely rare and can cause severe, watery diarrhea that requires immediate care.

If you have carcinoid syndrome, or diarrhea caused by a VIPoma, it is important to visit your health care provider regularly. Your health care provider will also explain your management plan.

Learn about the causes of carcinoid syndrome