Carcinoid tumor of the appendix is the most common neoplasm of the gastrointestinal tract in childhood and adolescence. Sufficient long-term follow-up data after surgical treatment are not currently available for patients diagnosed during the first two decades of life. From 1936 to 1988, 23 patients were observed at this institution with histologically confirmed carcinoid tumors involving the vermiform appendix. In contrast to the adult experience, in which the tumor is most commonly encountered as the result of an incidental appendectomy, 18 of these patients presented with signs and symptoms of an acute abdomen directing the surgeon to the appendix. In the other five cases, surgery was performed for other reasons. Median age at presentation was 13.0 years (range, 6 to 20 years). Fourteen patients were female, nine were male. Simple appendectomy was the initial procedure for all patients. Tumor size ranged from "microscopic" to 2.5 cm in largest dimension. Three patients subsequently underwent right hemicolectomy, and one patient had removal of a residual appendiceal stump, but no residual or metastatic tumor tissue was found in any of the resected specimens. Nineteen patients underwent simple appendectomy alone. Eighteen available specimens were reviewed at the time of this study for confirmation of histology and degree of invasion. The tumor invaded to the serosa in nine of 23 (39%). The mesoappendix or periappendiceal fat was involved in seven of 23 (30%). Vessel invasion was not noted in any specimen. Our median follow-up time was very long, being 26 years (range, 9 months to 51 years). No patient has had evidence of recurrent or metastatic disease. Thus, 20 patients undergoing simple appendectomy were cured, as well as the three undergoing right hemicolectomy. Based on these findings, carcinoid tumor of the appendix in children without metastases at the time of diagnosis would appear to be a clinically benign process, permitting treatment with a conservative surgical procedure.
- carcinoid tumor