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How is a carcinoid tumor diagnosed?

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Quick Answer

A carcinoid tumor is diagnosed through batteries of tests, according to Cancer.net. The types of tests depend on the patient's age and medical condition, reported symptoms, other test results, and whether or not the doctor suspects that the patient has a carcinoid tumor.

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Full Answer

Some tests examine the patient's blood and urine, explains Cancer.net. In a urine test, the levels of 5-HIAA are checked as well as the serotonin levels. 5-HIAA is a product of the breakdown of serotonin, and its levels are high in people with lung carcinoid tumors. Serotonin and chromogranin-A levels are also high in people with a typical carcinoid tumor of the lung. Blood as well as urine levels of chromogranin-A are also tested.

A biopsy is another way to diagnose a carcinoid tumor, says Cancer.net. The removed tissue is examined under a microscope by a pathologist who specializes in these types of tumors. An additional way to collect tissue from a suspicious tumor is through an endoscopy. Imaging techniques such as bone scans, X-rays, barium X-ray swallows and enemas, CT scans, MRIs and PET scans are also used to locate tumors that might be carcinoid.

Fortunately, carcinoid tumors are typically slow growing, according to MedlinePlus. They are usually treated with surgery and can be cured if they haven't metastasized.

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