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J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Mar 2;29:19. doi: 10.1186/1756-9966-29-19.

Somatostatin analogues in the treatment of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours, current aspects and new perspectives.

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  • 1Endocrinology Unit, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Via Elio Chianesi, 53, Rome 00144, Italy. appetecchia@ifo.it


Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEP NETs) are rare tumours that present many clinical features.They secrete peptides and neuroamines that cause distinct clinical syndromes, including carcinoid syndrome. However, many are clinically silent until late presentation with mass effects.In 2000 the WHO developed a new classification which gives a better description of the characteristics and biological behaviour of the tumour.Surgical resection is the treatment of first choice for a patient with a GEP NET. In metastatic disease multiple therapeutic approaches are possible. In these cases the goal is to improve quality of life and to extent survival.GEP NETs express somatostatin receptors (SSTRs), which are bound by somatostatin (SST) or its synthetic analogues, although the subtypes and number of SSTRs expressed is very variable.Somatostatin analogues are used frequently to control hormone-related symptoms while their anti-neoplastic activity, even if it has not been widely studied and the regarding data are discordant, seems to result prevalently in tumour stabilisation.A few patients who fail to respond or cease to respond to standard SST analogues treatment seem to have a response to higher doses of these drugs.The use of higher doses of somatostatin analogues or the development of new subtype selective agonists and chimaeric somatostatin analogues, or pan-somatostatin will probably improve the clinical management of these patients.This review provides an update on the use of somatostatin analogues in the management of GEP NETs and discusses novel clinical strategies based on SSTR 2 gene transfer therapy.

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