Endocrinologist: a doctor who specializes in the disorders of endocrine system
How to prepare yourself for the visit?
Getting prepared for the visit can optimize the therapy and help make the visit more fruitful. List out all the symptoms.
Write down your key medical information. Write down the names of all your medications, vitamins or supplements.
Ask a friend or a family member to accompany you during the visit.
Make a list of the questions to ask your doctor
Some typical questions can be:
Do these symptoms indicate a carcinoid tumor? If yes, what’s the stage?
Has my cancer affected other body parts?
What are the tests that I need?
What are my treatment options and side effects of each option?
Can my condition be cured?
How will treatment affect my daily routine?
What about the risk for my family members?
What your doctor wants to know?
A clear talk with your doctor can optimize the therapy and improve the outcomes. Prepare yourself to answer some essential questions from your doctor. Your doctor might ask you typical questions like:
When did the symptoms start appearing and how severe are they?
Does any factor improve or aggravate your symptoms?
Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with cancer of any kind?
Your doctor examines and evaluated your signs and symptoms to determine the possible causes. In case no obvious causes are found, your doctor may suspect carcinoid syndrome.
Further testing to confirm carcinoid syndrome include:
Your urine may be tested to look for the chemicals that form after breakdown of serotonin.
Elevated level of such chemicals could signal excess serotonin production in your body.
Remember serotonin is a common secretion of carcinoid tumors.
High blood levels of the protein chromogranin A, which is released by some carcinoid tumors, could signal carcinoid syndrome.
Imaging techniques such as CT, MRI or nuclear medicine scans can be used to identify and locate primary carcinoid tumor and to determine if it has spread.
Since abdominal carcinoid tumors are commonly found, your doctor may start with abdominal CT scan.
Treatment of carcinoid syndrome aims to treat the causative tumor and control the signs and symptoms by using medications. The choice of treatment option depends upon the size and location of the tumor.
An entire or a portion your cancer can be surgically removed. If the cancer has spread extensively making surgery impossible, your doctor can recommend other treatments that shrink the tumor.
Medications to reduce amount of secretions
Injectable medications, such as octreotide and lanreotide can reduce the signs and symptoms, including skin flushing and diarrhea.
These drugs don’t reduce the size of tumor but may slow its growth. Common side effects include abdominal pain and bloating.
This treatment activates your immune system against the tumor cells. Injections of a drug called interferon alfa can slow down the tumor growth.
Side effects include fatigue and flu-like symptoms.
Cutting blood supply to liver tumors
This process is called hepatic artery embolization. A catheter is inserted near your groin which passes an emboli through the artery that supplies your liver (hepatic artery).
The emboli reduces blood supply to cancer cells. This process is risky and is not widely available. Consult with your doctor to determine risk to benefit ratio.
Killing cancer cells by applying heat or cold
Radiofrequency ablation kills the cancer cells by applying heat obtained from various sources. Likewise, cryotherapy works in the same line but uses freezing temperature to destroy the tumor.
It uses chemicals to kill or shrink the tumor. The side effects of chemotherapy are specific to the particular drug.
6 Lifestyle and Coping
Various self-care measures can help you better cope with the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome.
These measures do not actually treat the condition but often make the symptoms more manageable.
Consult your doctor before applying any coping techniques.
These suggestions can be beneficial for you:
Stay away from the triggers of skin flushing
Certain triggers such as alcohol, large meals or stress can cause skin flushing. Keep track of what causes skin flushing and avoid them as far as possible.
Consider taking a multivitamin supplement
Chronic diarrhea may cause deficiency of micronutrients. Talk to your doctor if multivitamin supplements are beneficial.
Join a support group in your community or online, if available
Consult your doctor to know more about a support group for people with carcinoid syndrome.
Update and expand your knowledge
Update and expand your knowledge about your condition through authentic health information sources.
Live a healthy life
Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Stay physically active.
Manage your stress.
7 Risk and Complications
There are several complications associated with carcinoid syndrome, which include:
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