Targeted Systemic Treatment of Neuroendocrine Tumors: Current Options and Future Perspectives
Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) originate from the neuroendocrine cell system in the bronchial and gastrointestinal tract and can produce hormones leading to distinct clinical syndromes. Systemic treatment of patients with unresectable NETs aims to control symptoms related to hormonal overproduction and tumor growth. In the last decades prognosis has improved as a result of increased detection of early stage disease and the introduction of somatostatin analogs (SSAs) as well as several new therapeutic options. SSAs are the first-line medical treatment of NETs and can control hormonal production and tumor growth. The development of next-generation multireceptor targeted and radiolabelled somatostatin analogs, as well as target-directed therapies (as second-line treatment options) further improve progression-free survival in NET patients. To date, however, a significant prolongation of overall survival with systemic treatment in NET has not been convincingly demonstrated. Several new medical options and treatment combinations will become available in the upcoming years, and although preliminary results of preclinical and clinical trials are encouraging, large, preferrably randomized clinical studies are required to provide definitive evidence of their effect on survival and symptom control.