Surgical Endoscopy

, Volume 28, Issue 7, pp 2020–2026 | Cite as

Rectal carcinoids: a systematic review

  • Frank D. McDermott
  • Anna Heeney
  • Danielle Courtney
  • Helen Mohan
  • Des Winter



Rectal carcinoids are increasing in incidence worldwide. Frequently thought of as a relatively benign condition, there are limited data regarding optimal treatment strategies for both localized and more advanced disease. The aim of this study was to summarize published experiences with rectal carcinoids and to present the most current data.


Following PRISMA guidelines, an electronic literature search performed of PubMed, Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Library using the terms “rectum” or “rectal” AND “carcinoid” over a 20-year study period from January 1993 to May 2013. Non-English-language studies, animal studies, and studies of fewer than 100 patients were excluded. Study end points included demographic information, tumor features, intervention and outcomes. All included articles were quality assessed.


Using the search parameters and exclusions as outlined above, a total of 14 articles were identified for detailed analysis. The quality of articles was low/moderate for all included scoring 9 to 17 of 27. The articles included 4,575 patients diagnosed with a rectal carcinoid. Approximately 80 % of tumors were <10 mm, 15 % 11–20 mm, and 5 % >20 mm. Eight percent of patients presented with regional lymph node metastases, and 4 % presented with distant metastases. Tumor size >10 mm, and muscular and lymphovascular invasion are independently associated with an increased risk of metastases. The 5-year survival was 93 % in patients presenting with localized disease and 86 % overall.


Small tumors up to 10 mm without any adverse features can be treated with endoscopic or local excision. The treatment of carcinoids between 10 and 20 mm is still contentious, but those up to 16 mm without adverse feature are suitable for local/endoscopic excision followed by careful histopathological assessment. Those >20 mm or with adverse features require radical surgery with mesorectal clearance in suitable patients.


Carcinoid Outcomes Prognostic factors Rectal 



Mr. McDermott, Miss Heeney, Dr. Courtney, Miss Mohan, and Professor Winter have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank D. McDermott
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anna Heeney
    • 1
    • 2
  • Danielle Courtney
    • 1
    • 2
  • Helen Mohan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Des Winter
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Clinical Outcomes, Research and Education (ICORE)St Vincent’s University HospitalDublin 4Republic of Ireland
  2. 2.Department of SurgerySt Vincent’s University HospitalDublin 4Republic of Ireland

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