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Pulmonary Carcinoid Tumours

Pulmonary Carcinoid Tumours

Pulmonary carcinoid tumours are a rare form of lung cancer that often results in few, if any, symptoms. It is for this reason that diagnosis can come years after the tumour actually started to develop. So if you are suffering from a pulmonary carcinoid tumour and there was a delay in diagnosis, you need to know why it happened, and whether it amounts to medical negligence.

What Are Pulmonary Carcinoid Tumours?

Pulmonary carcinoid tumours are relatively rare cancerous tumours that grow within the lung. They tend to be slow growing (particularly when compared to other forms of lung tumours) and are made up of neuroendocrine cells.

There are two main types of pulmonary carcinoid tumours:

1. Typical

Nine out of ten pulmonary carcinoid tumours can be classified as typical, and are usually grow very slowly, rarely spreading beyond the lung itself.

2. Atypical

In contrast, atypical pulmonary carcinoid tumours develop much more quickly, and are more likely to spread to other organs.

Pulmonary carcinoid tumours can also be defined in terms of where they grow within the lung, which in turn will determine what symptoms the patient will experience. For example, the tumour may be classified as a:-

  • Central carcinoid which form in the centre of the lung within the bronchi; or
  • Peripheral carcinoid located at the edges of the lung within the narrow airways.

Symptoms of Pulmonary Carcinoid Tumours

Many people who have a pulmonary carcinoid tumour do not present any symptoms, particularly as the tumours themselves tend to grow slowly. However, when a patient does present with symptoms, these normally include:-

  • Coughing;
  • Coughing up blood;
  • Recurrent pulmonary infection;
  • Fever;
  • Chest discomfort/pain;
  • Wheezing;
  • Shortness of breath.

Occasionally, pulmonary carcinoid tumours will release chemicals into the bloodstream, causing additional symptoms. For example, Carcinoid Syndrome sees the tumours release hormone-like substances, often leading to facial flushing, diarrhoea, wheezing and a fast heartbeat. Alternatively, a patient may suffer from Cushing Syndrome, whereby a tumour produces ATCH which in turn causes the adrenal gland to become overactive. This may cause symptoms such as weight gain, weakness, high blood sugar and increased body and facial hair.

Diagnosing Pulmonary Carcinoid Tumours

Because pulmonary carcinoid tumours rarely cause a person to suffer any symptoms, diagnosis can be extremely difficult. Indeed, such tumours are often only found by coincidence. Nevertheless, if medical professionals do suspect the presence of a pulmonary carcinoid tumour, there are a number of test which can confirm a diagnosis. These include: imaging tests, X-ray, CT scan, biopsy and pulmonary function tests.

A Delay in Diagnosis Does This Amount to Medical Negligence?

Seeing as pulmonary carcinoid tumours are often asymptomatic, a person will often be unaware of their condition for some time, and neglect to seek medical assistance. It is therefore unlikely a doctor would be able to diagnose a patient who does not suspect anything is wrong.

There is, however, an exception to this rule. If a patient is undergoing investigations for other conditions, a pulmonary carcinoid tumour may be found simultaneously. In fact, such tumours grow slowly, thus presenting plenty of opportunities for the tumour to be noticed.

Furthermore, if a patient presents with symptoms but a doctor fails to take action in a timely fashion, then this may also amount to a delay in diagnosis.

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