Treatment of carcinoid tumours


Your treatment will depend on the stage, grade and type of cancer cells you have. The stage looks at the size of your cancer and if it has spread from where it started. The grade of the cancer can tell if your cancer grows quickly or slowly. You can have a low, moderate or high grade cancer.
The following treatments are used in carcinoid tumours:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Biological therapy
  • Other medications


The aim of surgery is to remove as much of the tumour as possible. Surgery is normally only possible if your cancer has not spread to other parts of your body.


Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to cure or control cancer. These drugs can be given on their own or with each other. See the booklet called Understanding Chemotherapy and Other Cancer Drugs, which you can download from our "Publications about cancer treatment side effects" list on the right hand side of this page, for more information. For more about drugs, see our information list of chemotherapy drugs.

Learn more about chemotherapy


Radiotherapy is the use of high-energy rays to kill or shrink the cancer cells. These rays are aimed directly at your tumour. Please see our booklet Understanding Radiotherapy, which you can download from our "Important cancer information booklets" list on the right hand side of this page, for more about radiotherapy.

Learn more about radiotherapy

Biological therapies

This therapy uses your body´s immune system to treat cancer. Your doctor will let you know if there is a biological therapy for you. Interferon is a biological therapy often used in carcinoid. It is given as an injection under your skin to control some of the symptoms of carcinoid.

Learn more about biological therapy

Other medications

Sandostatin is a hormone drug that reduces the amount of hormones made by your body. It helps to control some of the symptoms, including flushing. It is given as an injection. Carcinoid is a very rare type of cancer and every patient is different.
As a result, you may receive other medication or treatment not listed here. Your doctor will advise you on what is the best treatment for you.

Advanced treatment

Advanced cancer means that your cancer has spread from the area where it started. If it spreads in the area around the original tumour, it is called a local spread. If it spreads to other areas of your body, it is called secondary cancer or metastatic cancer.
It is usually not possible to cure advanced cancer. Treatment is given to control the cancer and to improve your quality of life. Treatments can involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and biological therapy as mentioned above.
The palliative care team might visit you at this time. This team can help with any of your symptoms and support you and your family through your treatment.

Learn more about treatments

Side effects

The type of side-effects you get will depend on the type of treatment, the dose, the duration and your own general health. Some treatments may cause symptoms like lowered resistance to infections, nausea or loss of appetite. Many treatments cause fatigue (tiredness). Your doctor will discuss any likely side-effects before treatment.

For more about side-effects, download any of the "Important cancer information booklets" listed on the right hand side of this page, or learn more about side effects here.

Clinical trials

If a treatment looks like it might be helpful, it is given to patients in research studies called clinical trials. Trials may be taking place at the hospital you are attending. If you are interested in taking part, talk to your doctor. He or she can tell you if the trial would suit you or not.

Learn more about clinical trials

Call our National Cancer Helpline

Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm