Screening for carcinoid tumours | Cancer Research UK
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Screening for carcinoid tumours

Men and women discussing carcinoid cancer

This page tells you about screening for carcinoids (neuroendocrine tumours).


What screening is

Screening means testing for early stages of a disease before there are any symptoms.

Before doctors can screen for any type of cancer, they must have an accurate test to use. The test must

  • Be reliable in picking up cancers that are there
  • Not make it look as though there is a cancer in people who don't have one (called a false positive result)

At the moment we don’t have a proven test that can safely and reliably find carcinoid tumours.


Why there is no screening for carcinoid

We don’t screen for carcinoid in the UK at the moment because

  • The tests have risks that outweigh the benefits for most people
  • Carcinoid is a rare tumour so few would be found
  • The costs involved would be very high
  • We mostly don’t know who is at higher risk of developing carcinoid

With uncommon diseases, it is most cost effective to screen people who are thought to be at a higher risk. But first we must be sure that we know who is at higher risk.

If you believe that you may be at a higher than average risk of developing a carcinoid tumour, for example if you have a particular medical condition, you can talk to your doctor. They may be able to arrange for you to have regular check ups. There is a list of questions you can ask your doctor about carcinoid.

If you have inherited a rare family syndrome called multiple endocrine neoplasia 1 (MEN1), your doctor may suggest that you have regular tests to check for a number of different types of cancer. We know that some people with this family syndrome will go on to get carcinoid.

Remember – most carcinoid tumours are not related to an inherited family syndrome.

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Updated: 19 May 2016