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Carcinoid Syndrome: Tackling Educational Gaps

Carcinoid syndrome occurs when carcinoid tumors secrete serotonin or other chemicals into the bloodstream. Because primary symptoms of carcinoid syndrome are associated with other more common diseases, timely recognition is difficult, negatively impacting patients' quality of life and functioning.

A CNE-approved Oncology Nursing Strategy Session, Optimizing Management of Carcinoid Syndrome in Patients With Neuroendocrine Tumors, revealed meaningful improvements in nurses' knowledge surrounding recognizing, grading, and managing symptoms of carcinoid syndrome.

A total of 655 participants completed this activity, including 589 nurses, 14 nurse practitioners, and 1 physician. Pretest data showed that only 31.6% of participants were able to recognize that bradycardia is not indicative of carcinoid syndrome. After completing the activity, that number improved to 95.9%. Furthermore, only 39.5% were able to accurately grade symptoms of carcinoid syndrome according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events at baseline, compared with 98.1% after completing the activity. Finally, participants also had a better grasp on managing symptoms of carcinoid syndrome after completing the activity (35.6% vs 70.6%), in addition to developing a better understanding of adverse events of carcinoid syndrome treatment (39.8% vs 89.9%).

After engaging in the educational content, almost 80% of participants felt that they were more likely to recognize cutaneous flushing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, tachycardia, and wheezing as symptoms of carcinoid syndrome. Approximately 60% of participants were more likely to assess frequency, character of a stool, and time of day to determine cause of diarrhea (a symptom of carcinoid syndrome). Another 40% of participants were more likely to involve a nutritionist in the multidisciplinary management of patients with carcinoid syndrome. Seventy-two percent of participants plan to share this activity with their colleagues.

Collectively, these data show that the activity has had a positive impact on participants' knowledge surrounding carcinoid syndrome and neuroendocrine tumors.


i3 Health (2019). Optimizing Management of Carcinoid Syndrome in Patients With Neuroendocrine Tumors: activity outcomes summary report. Data on file. 

Image Credit: National Cancer Institute 

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