Carcinoid Tumor Awareness Month
November 1 – November 30 CDT
Carcinoid Tumor Awareness Month is observed in November. Because carcinoid tumors are the most common type of neuroendocrine tumor, the entire month of November is dedicated to raising awareness. Since carcinoid tumors grow in the neuroendocrine system, they are different from other forms of cancer that form in the GI tract or lung tissue.
The month of November is dedicated to raising awareness about carcinoid tumors, the most common type of neuroendocrine tumors. These solid masses develop when highly specialized neuroendocrine cells (nerve cells that respond to certain signals by releasing hormones into the blood) begin to grow and divide uncontrollably. The resulting accumulation of cells can bind together and form a hormone-producing (functional) or non-hormone-producing (nonfunctional) tumor, which may be benign or cancerous.
Carcinoid tumors are typically very slow growing, meaning that symptoms often do not appear for many years. Symptoms are often only noticeable when the hormones produced by the tumor are filtered into the blood through the liver.
Carcinoid tumors can form in the gastrointestinal tract, lungs or thymus. Because these masses typically grow very slowly, symptoms usually do not become apparent for several years. Oftentimes, the condition is diagnosed incidentally during the evaluation of an imaging study that was ordered for an unrelated reason, such as suspected appendicitis.
Because carcinoid tumors are relatively rare, many people are unaware of the condition and its symptoms. In November, you are reminded that you can make a difference by simply spreading the word. Take some time to talk with your family members and friends about carcinoid tumors. You might also choose to “show your stripes” by wearing a zebra-striped awareness ribbon, which you’ll probably find is a great conversation piece.
Why do we wear a zebra awareness ribbon pin for carcinoid cancer?
While studying in medical school, many students are told, “When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.” In other words, physicians are taught to focus on the most likely possibilities, rather than the unusual ones, when making a diagnosis. However, in some situations, it is appropriate to look for a “zebra,” such as a rare carcinoid tumor. The zebra-stripe serves as a bold reminder of that fact to everyone.#personalizedcause