The study: Researchers looked at the use of the drug octreotide LAR (Sandostatin LAR) as a treatment for cancerous neuroendocrine tumors of the midgut (the lower part of the small intestine). A neuroendocrine tumor begins in the hormone-producing cells of the body's neuroendocrine system, which consists of cells that are a cross between traditional hormone-producing cells and nerve cells. Octreotide LAR is similar to a hormone that regulates a person's endocrine (hormonal) system. It is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat some pituitary gland conditions and to reduce diarrhea caused by other neuroendocrine tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. Previous research has shown that chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not effective for treating these types of tumors.
Of the 85 patients who participated in the study, 43 received octreotide LAR and 42 did not receive the drug. About 70% of these patients received surgery before participating in this study and 30% had tumors that could not be removed with surgery.
The results: After 6 months of treatment, the tumors of 64% of patients who received octreotide LAR had not grown or spread compared with 37% of patients who did not receive the drug. Patients who received octreotide LAR had no signs of tumor growth or spread for about 14 months compared with 6 months for patients who did not receive the drug. Also, octreotide LAR was more effective as a treatment for patients who had a tumor located only in the area where it started than for patients who had a tumor that had spread to other areas of the body. The time it took for the tumor to grow and spread did not increase for 30% of patients who received octreotide LAR. Follow-up for patients participating in this study is ongoing, so it is too early to determine if this drug increases survival.
The side effects of octreotide LAR are not severe and include diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and bile stones.
What this means for patients
“Although cancerous neuroendocrine tumors of the midgut are rare, these findings are good news for patients. We believe our study will change the way that this disease is treated by providing the first drug option for patients who cannot be cured with surgery,” said lead author Rudolf Arnold, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine at Philipps University in Marburg, Germany. More studies are needed to determine why this drug does not work for some patients. Talk with your doctor about all available treatment options, including participation in clinical trials (research studies involving people).
What to Ask Your Doctor
- What type of neuroendocrine tumor do I have?
- What are my treatment options?
- What clinical trials are open to me?
For More Information
Clinical Trials