Carcinoid cancer is a slow-growing type of cancer that typically begins in the lining of the lungs or the digestive tract, according to the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus. This type of cancer is rare, and it doesn't usually produce any symptoms in its earliest stages. The average age at diagnosis for those afflicted with carcinoid cancer is 60.
Although most carcinoid tumors begin in the intestinal tract, rectum, stomach, pancreas, colon or appendix, they can also be found elsewhere in the body, states WebMD. Nearly 50 percent of all small intestine malignancies and a third of all small intestinal tumors are carcinoid tumors.
This type of tumor comes from the cells of the endocrine and nervous systems, and the tumors can produce hormones that cause symptomatic flushing, diarrhea and stomach cramping. The presence of these symptoms is known as carcinoid syndrome.
When caught in their earliest stages, treatment is fairly straightforward and successful, notes WebMD. Early detection can be difficult, however, since symptoms do not usually develop for years. Constipation, cramping, bleeding and abdominal pain are symptoms to watch for, but these symptoms also mimic other conditions. Heart palpitations, wheezing and shortness of breath are also potential symptoms. In addition, this type of cancer can cause Cushing's syndrome, which is characterized by high blood sugar, hypertension, increased body or facial hair, muscle weakness and weight gain.