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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Childhood Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI]
This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
A single-institution retrospective review identified 45 cases of carcinoid tumors in children and adolescents between 2003 and 2016.[Level of evidence: 3iiDii] The most common primary site was the appendix (36 of 45 cases). No recurrences were observed among the patients with appendiceal primary tumors treated with appendectomy alone, which supports resection of the appendix without hemicolectomy as the procedure of choice.
Most carcinoid tumors of the appendix are discovered incidentally at the time of appendectomy, and are small, low-grade, localized tumors.[2,3,4]
Treatment of Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors of the Appendix
Treatment options for carcinoid tumors of the appendix include the following:
In adults, it has been accepted practice to remove the entire right colon in patients with large carcinoid tumors of the appendix (>2 cm in diameter) or with tumors that have spread to the lymph nodes.[5,6,7,8]
Study results suggest that appendectomy alone is sufficient treatment for childhood appendiceal carcinoid tumors regardless of size, position, histology, or nodal or mesenteric involvement and that right hemicolectomy is unnecessary in children. Routine follow-up imaging and biologic studies were not beneficial.[5,8,9,10]
Evidence (appendectomy alone):
The study concluded that appendectomy alone should be considered curative for most cases of appendiceal carcinoid tumors. The procedure of choice is a resection of the appendix without hemicolectomy.
The investigator's recommendation was that appendectomy alone is sufficient treatment for carcinoid tumors of the appendix.
Cancer in children and adolescents is rare, although the overall incidence has been slowly increasing since 1975. Referral to medical centers with multidisciplinary teams of cancer specialists experienced in treating cancers that occur in childhood and adolescence should be considered for children and adolescents with cancer. This multidisciplinary team approach incorporates the skills of the following health care professionals and others to ensure that children receive treatment, supportive care, and rehabilitation that will achieve optimal survival and quality of life:
(Refer to the PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care summaries for specific information about supportive care for children and adolescents with cancer.)
The American Academy of Pediatrics has outlined guidelines for pediatric cancer centers and their role in the treatment of pediatric patients with cancer. At these pediatric cancer centers, clinical trials are available for most types of cancer that occur in children and adolescents, and the opportunity to participate is offered to most patients and their families. Clinical trials for children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially better therapy with current standard therapy. Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapy for childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI website.
Dramatic improvements in survival have been achieved for children and adolescents with cancer. Between 1975 and 2010, childhood cancer mortality decreased by more than 50%. Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors require close monitoring because side effects of cancer therapy may persist or develop months or years after treatment. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for specific information about the incidence, type, and monitoring of late effects in childhood and adolescent cancer survivors.)
Childhood cancer is a rare disease, with about 15,000 cases diagnosed annually in the United States in individuals younger than 20 years. The U.S. Rare Diseases Act of 2002 defines a rare disease as one that affects populations smaller than 200,000 people. Therefore, all pediatric cancers are considered rare.
The designation of a rare tumor is not uniform among pediatric and adult groups. In adults, rare cancers are defined as those with an annual incidence of fewer than six cases per 100,000 people. They account for up to 24% of all cancers diagnosed in the European Union and about 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States.[5,6] Also, the designation of a pediatric rare tumor is not uniform among international groups, as follows:
Most cancers within subgroup XI are either melanomas or thyroid cancer, with other types accounting for only 1.3% of cancers in children aged 0 to 14 years and 5.3% of cancers in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.
These rare cancers are extremely challenging to study because of the low number of patients with any individual diagnosis, the predominance of rare cancers in the adolescent population, and the lack of clinical trials for adolescents with rare cancers.
Information about these tumors may also be found in sources relevant to adults with cancer such as the PDQ summary on Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Treatment (Adult).
A single-institution retrospective review identified 45 cases of carcinoid tumors in children and adolescents between 2003 and 2016.[Level of evidence: 3iiDii] Extra-appendiceal primary tumors (n = 9) were associated with a higher risk of metastasis and recurrence.
Nonappendiceal carcinoid tumors in the abdomen can occur in the pancreas, stomach, and liver. The most common clinical presentation is an unknown primary site. Nonappendiceal carcinoid tumors are more likely to be larger, higher grade, or present with metastases. Larger tumor size has been associated with a higher risk of recurrence.
The carcinoid syndrome of excessive excretion of somatostatin is characterized by flushing, labile blood pressure, and metastatic spread of the tumor to the liver. Symptoms may be lessened by giving somatostatin analogs, which are available in short-acting and long-acting forms.
Clinical experience with nonappendiceal carcinoid tumors is reported almost entirely in adults. Histopathology is graded by mitotic rate, Ki-67 labeling index, and presence of necrosis into well-differentiated (low grade, G1), moderately differentiated (intermediate grade, G2) and poorly differentiated (high grade, G3) tumors.
Treatment and Outcome of Nonappendiceal Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors
Treatment options for resectable nonappendiceal carcinoid tumors include the following:
Treatment options for unresectable or multifocal nonappendiceal carcinoid tumors include the following:
SSTR2 ligands include octreotide, long-acting repeatable octreotide, and lanreotide. Octreotide is not practical for therapy because of its short half-life, requiring frequent repeated administration. Long-acting repeatable octreotide and lanreotide have been evaluated in prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trials.[8,9] Patient age was not specified in the first trial, and eligibility was restricted to age 18 years and older in the second trial. Neither agent produced significant objective responses in measurable tumors. Both agents were associated with statistically significant increases in progression-free survival and time-to-progression, and both agents are recommended for the treatment of unresectable nonappendiceal carcinoid tumors in adults.
Conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy appears to be inactive.
In one retrospective, single-institution study, the 5-year relapse-free survival rate of patients with nonappendiceal carcinoid tumors was 41%, and the overall survival rate was 66%.
Treatment of metastatic carcinoid tumors of the large bowel, pancreas, or stomach becomes more complicated and requires treatment similar to that given for adult high-grade carcinoid tumors. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Treatment [Adult] for treatment options in patients with malignant carcinoid tumors.)
Information about National Cancer Institute (NCI)–supported clinical trials can be found on the NCI website. For information about clinical trials sponsored by other organizations, refer to the ClinicalTrials.gov website.
The following is an example of a national and/or institutional clinical trial that is currently being conducted:
Tumor tissue from progressive or recurrent disease must be available for molecular characterization. Patients with tumors that have molecular variants addressed by treatment arms included in the trial will be offered treatment on Pediatric MATCH. Additional information can be obtained on the NCI website and ClinicalTrials.gov website.
The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.
Special Considerations for the Treatment of Children With Cancer
Added American Academy of Pediatrics as reference 2.
This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. More information about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards in maintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the About This PDQ Summary and PDQ® - NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.
Purpose of This Summary
This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the treatment of pediatric gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians in the care of their patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.
Reviewers and Updates
This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Board members review recently published articles each month to determine whether an article should:
Changes to the summaries are made through a consensus process in which Board members evaluate the strength of the evidence in the published articles and determine how the article should be included in the summary.
The lead reviewers for Childhood Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Treatment are:
Any comments or questions about the summary content should be submitted to Cancer.gov through the NCI website's Email Us. Do not contact the individual Board Members with questions or comments about the summaries. Board members will not respond to individual inquiries.
Levels of Evidence
Some of the reference citations in this summary are accompanied by a level-of-evidence designation. These designations are intended to help readers assess the strength of the evidence supporting the use of specific interventions or approaches. The PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board uses a formal evidence ranking system in developing its level-of-evidence designations.
Permission to Use This Summary
PDQ is a registered trademark. Although the content of PDQ documents can be used freely as text, it cannot be identified as an NCI PDQ cancer information summary unless it is presented in its entirety and is regularly updated. However, an author would be permitted to write a sentence such as "NCI's PDQ cancer information summary about breast cancer prevention states the risks succinctly: [include excerpt from the summary]."
The preferred citation for this PDQ summary is:
PDQ® Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Childhood Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/gi-carcinoid-tumors/hp/child-gi-carcinoid-treatment-pdq. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>.
Images in this summary are used with permission of the author(s), artist, and/or publisher for use within the PDQ summaries only. Permission to use images outside the context of PDQ information must be obtained from the owner(s) and cannot be granted by the National Cancer Institute. Information about using the illustrations in this summary, along with many other cancer-related images, is available in Visuals Online, a collection of over 2,000 scientific images.
Based on the strength of the available evidence, treatment options may be described as either "standard" or "under clinical evaluation." These classifications should not be used as a basis for insurance reimbursement determinations. More information on insurance coverage is available on Cancer.gov on the Managing Cancer Care page.
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Last Revised: 2021-10-05
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