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Ann Oncol. 2002 May;13(5):653-68.

The clinical role of somatostatin analogues as antineoplastic agents: much ado about nothing?

Author information

1
Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital of Vienna, Austria. michael.hejna@akh-wien.ac.at

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Somatostatin (SST) analogues represent a novel approach for the treatment of certain cancers. The objective of this article is to summarise the current knowledge on SST analogues in the treatment of cancer patients.

METHODS:

Computerised (Medline) and manual searches were performed to identify publications on clinical trials published in the English-speaking literature between 1966 and 2000. Information abstracted included patients' pre-treatment status, histology, SST receptor (SSTR) evaluation, type of SST analogue, application schedule and dose, duration of treatment, side-effects, response criteria applied (i.e. WHO response criteria, biochemical criteria or symptomatic investigations) and survival.

RESULTS:

Our search disclosed 22 case reports, five phase 1 and 47 phase II trials, and eight randomised clinical trials using SST analogues (octreotide, lanreotide and vapreotide) as antineoplastic agents. With regard to the phase II trials, conflicting results have been demonstrated in almost all tumour entities investigated. The few randomised studies published so far have shown an impact on survival in patients with hepatocellular cancer, while the effect attributed to treatment in patients with gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas might well have been due to an exceptionally short survival in the control group. There appears to be evidence that SST analogues are able to enhance the therapeutic effects of hormonal intervention in patients with breast cancer, prostate cancer and probably pancreatic cancer. Interpretation of the findings, however, is complicated by the fact that patients were heavily pre-treated in some studies and response criteria have not been uniformly applied. In addition, most studies have not been designed to distinguish between receptor-mediated (direct) and indirect effects of SST analogues in tumour patients.

CONCLUSIONS:

According to the results obtained so far, there can be no doubt about the wide therapeutic index and the high efficacy of SST analogues in the symptomatic management of neuroendocrine tumours. Apart from these indications, the data do not justify recommendation of SST analogues as antineoplastic agents outside of clinical trials, as the optimal dose and schedule of application for antineoplastic activity has not been defined for currently used agents. Carefully designed clinical trials including investigation of SSTR status before treatment, evaluation of an indirect mechanism of SST analogues, and assessment of optimal combination of hormone therapy and chemotherapy with SST analogues are clearly needed in the near future.

PMID:
12075733
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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