The use of long-acting and potent somatostatin analogues is a major advance in the management of carcinoid tumours. In addition to providing effective symptom relief in malignant carcinoid syndrome, octreotide can also be used for diagnostic purposes. Despite its expense, octreotide is the current agent of choice for the treatment of this condition while analogues with different receptor specificities and pharmacokinetics hold promise for the future. Gastric carcinoids have aroused interest because of their experimental association with chronic hypergastrinaemia, a condition now commonplace because of the widespread use of H2-blockers and proton-pump inhibitors. This subject is reviewed. The slow evolution of many tumours demands prolonged follow-up and the active use of a variety of palliative interventions. These include measures such as hepatic and cardiac surgery, which might be deemed inappropriate for patients with other types of metastatic malignancy. Interferons may have a role when first-line treatments have failed. Chemotherapy is, generally, of limited value.
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