A lung carcinoid tumor (also called pulmonary carcinoid tumor or pulmonary neuroendocrine tumor) is a lung tumor made up of neuroendocrine cells, which are found throughout the body. These tumors can form in different organs, not just in the lungs. Up to 1 in 4 of all carcinoid tumors are found in the lungs. Most of these tumors develop in the major bronchi. The major bronchi are the large air tubes that carry air from the windpipe into the lungs.
There are two main types of lung carcinoid tumors:
Typical carcinoid tumors: Most lung carcinoid tumors are typical (low-grade), which means they grow slowly. The tumor’s location in the lung may block the airways. If so, MSK surgeons may remove that lung, or take out the tumor and reconnect the lung. They often use minimally invasive methods. This kind of surgery is done with small incisions (cuts) and few stitches.
- Atypical carcinoid tumors: Atypical (intermediate-grade) carcinoid tumors are rare. These tumors grow more quickly than typical carcinoid tumors. Our surgeons will remove the lung that has the atypical carcinoid tumor. Surgery may be followed by chemotherapy, radiation, or both.
Other lung tumors
Other lung tumors that are less common include:
- Adenoid cystic carcinomas of the lung: This is a rare form of cancer that usually starts in the salivary glands. and sometimes is in the lung. It is not linked to cigarette smoking. It grows slowly and is usually treated with surgery.
- Primary pulmonary lymphomas: In rare cases, a lymphoma (usually non-Hodgkin lymphoma) starts in the lungs. It may be in lymph nodes in the chest but has not spread further.
- Primary sarcoma of the lung: These are very rare but aggressive forms of sarcoma in the lung.