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Bronchial carcinoid tumours - Respiratory oncology

A rare neuroendocrine tumour of the lung. - Definition, Incidence, Aetiology, Pathophysiology, Clinical features, Complications, Investigations, Management, Prognosis.

Bronchial carcinoid tumours




A rare neuroendocrine tumour of the lung.





These are highly vascular, low-grade malignant tumours which are locally invasive and can metastasise. They arise from bronchial enterochromaffin (Kulchitsky) cells, and can secrete various amines and peptides, including serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine (5HT)), histamine and bradykinin. These rarely cause the carcinoid syndrome, as to do so they have to metastasise to the liver first (the peptides are metabolised in the liver).

Clinical features


The tumour can present with obstruction, recurrent haemoptysis or with metastatic disease. There may be weight loss.




They arise from lobar or segmental bronchi into which they protrude as a rounded mass usually covered by intact epithelium. Cells are cuboidal, arranged in a mosaic or trabecular pattern and have a dense core and neurose-cretory granules.




1.     Lung collapse and consolidation distal to the obstruction.


2.     Local invasion, spread to lymph nodes and distant metastasis.


3.     Rarely, the carcinoid syndrome – recurrent episodes of a combination of


·        flushing of the face and neck sometimes leading to telangectasia (due to kinins).


·        abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and watery diarrhoea (5HT).


·        tricuspid regurgitation or pulmonary stenosis.




Chest X-ray may show a rounded lesion.


Bronchoscopy usually shows a pedunculated vascular tumour protruding into the lumen.


24-hour urinary excretion of the metabolite of 5HT. (5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA)) on a low serotonin diet (excluding bananas, tomatoes, walnuts, etc.)




Local resection is indicated in all cases.




80% 10-year survival.

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