Gastrointestinal (GI) carcinoids are neuroendocrine tumors originating in multiple locations throughout the GI tract. The prognosis for patients with GI carcinoid tumors is diverse. To determine the factors that significantly affect prognosis, we reviewed our experience. Between 1992 and 2000 a total of 70 patients with GI carcinoid tumors underwent surgical resection at our institution. The patients were grouped into three categories based on the origin of the carcinoid tumor: foregut, midgut, hindgut. The mean age of the patients was 56 ± 2 years. All patients with foregut carcinoids had symptoms upon presentation, whereas 61% of those with midgut carcinoids and only 37% of those with hindgut carcinoids had symptoms (p < 0.001). The factors that most strongly affected survival on univariate analysis were a symptomatic presentation and the site of origin. Patients with foregut or midgut lesions had lower 5-year disease-free survivals than those with hindgut tumors. Moreover, the size of the primary tumor and the presence of liver metastases were not independent predictors of survival. Despite the larger tumor size and the higher incidence of liver metastases, patients with foregut carcinoids appear to have the same prognosis as those with midgut carcinoids. These data therefore suggest that the outcomes of patients with carcinoid tumors are highly dependent on the presence of symptoms and the site of origin.
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