What is the role of octreotide in the treatment of carcinoid tumors?

Updated: Feb 12, 2019
  • Author: Cameron K Tebbi, MD; Chief Editor: Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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Octreotide, a somatostatin analog, is highly effective in reducing symptoms; however, in the pediatric age group, stunted linear growth is of concern. Survival advantage with the use of this drug has not yet been proven.

  • Octreotide reduces the amount of the growth factor produced and, thus, theoretically impairs growth.

  • Intermittent and continuous infusions of octreotide have been reported. Superior results obtained with the latter modality. Such treatment can result in near-normalization of the plasma insulinlike growth factor I and partial suppression of plasma growth hormone–releasing hormone (GHRH). [84]

  • The availability of a long-acting somatostatin analog that can be given once a month has eliminated the need for injections 2-3 times per day, with equal efficacy. [85]

  • In metastatic carcinoid tumors, long-term use of octreotide is reported. However, receptor alteration induced during the use of this agent requires consecutive drug dosage increase to control the symptoms. [86] At present, no formal, well-designed study has been performed to systematically measure the effects of this modality of therapy. Although experience is limited, adverse effects in children have been similar to those in adults. Adverse effects include gallstones and steatorrhea, which may sometimes require pancreatic enzyme replacement. Local irritation at the injection site is a common complaint. These adverse effects must be weighed against the potential benefits.

  • A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 study showed that using everolimus in conjunction with octreotide improved progression-free survival in patients with low-grade and intermediate-grade advanced neuroendocrine tumors. [87]

In situ targeted therapy with somatostatin analogs (eg, octreotide attached to a radioactive load using yttrium-90 or111 indium-labeling agents) provides promise for patients with unresectable tumors. This therapy is currently used on an experimental basis in adults and children.

A case of a 16-year-old female with recurrent disseminated, ganglioside positive bronchial carcinoid, successfully treated with recombinant alpha interferon with a third relapse treated with NGcGM3/VSSP Montanide ISA 51 vaccination in conjunction with rec-h lFNalpha is available. [89] The disease was stable 56 months posttherapy.

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