Endocrine Tumor: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of tumor and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about endocrine tumors, ways to prevent them, how to best treat them, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you. Also, be sure to read the Latest Research section of the specific endocrine tumor type that has been diagnosed.

Combination chemotherapy and surgery.  The combination of the drugs oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) and irinotecan (Camptosar) along with surgery is being studied to treat endocrine tumors. Other agents that have some activity against some of the endocrine tumor subtypes are: fluoropyrimidines, doxorubicin, and streptozotocin. 

Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is being researched as a treatment option for several types of endocrine tumors, including neuroendocrine tumors and thyroid cancer. The focus of targeted therapy is to stop the growth and spread of a tumor in several different ways. Some of the drugs being studied for endocrine tumors include: 

  • Vatalanib may block some of the enzymes needed for cell growth and sustained blood flow to the tumor. Vatalanib is given with the drug octreotide (Sandostatin), which helps control symptoms, such as diarrhea, caused by some tumors.
  • Several drugs are being studied for advanced thyroid cancer that does not respond to surgery and/or I-131 treatment. These include axitinib (Inlyta), sorafenib (Nexavar), pazopanib (Votrient), and motesanib diphosphate. Learn more about research on thyroid cancer
  • Pazopanib and motesanib diphospate are also being studied for advanced islet cell tumors. In addition, sunitinib and bevacizumab (Avastin) in combination with chemotherapy, octreotide, and everolimus are being studied for patients with advanced islet cell tumors. Learn more about research on islet cell tumors.
  • Bevacizumab is being researched for neuroendocrine tumors. Learn more about research on neuroendrocrine tumors.  
  • Sunitinib and everolimus have activity against pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (islet cell carcinoma).

Genetic and molecular testing. The genetic testing and the refinement of RET oncogenes (see Risk Factors) is an ongoing area of active research that will improve selection of treatment and give more precise prognosis. Researchers are also looking at using the molecular biology (the study of the structure and function of cells at the molecular level) of the tumor to help diagnose endocrine tumors and predict how well treatment will work.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current endocrine tumor treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

To find clinical trials specific to your diagnosis, talk with your doctor or search online clinical trial databases now

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.