Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 24, Issue 9, pp 3695–3703 | Cite as

Health-related quality of life in patients with neuroendocrine tumors: an investigation of treatment type, disease status, and symptom burden

  • Timothy P. Pearman
  • Jennifer L. Beaumont
  • David Cella
  • Maureen P. Neary
  • James Yao
Original Article



Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are malignant solid tumors arising in hormone-secreting tissue. They have historically been very difficult to treat, and advanced NETs are considered incurable. Surgery is the only potentially curative treatment option, though research is ongoing, investigating the efficacy of targeted therapies combined with more traditional chemotherapies. Frequent bowel movements and episodes of flushing are the most common symptoms.


The present study reports data from an anonymous patient survey of 663 eligible NET patients, identified with the assistance of patient advocacy groups. This study investigated the impact of treatment (surgery alone; surgery plus somatostatin analogue; other treatments) on quality of life (QOL). Finally, we investigate whether recurrent disease results in poorer QOL compared to disease treated curatively with surgery and remaining in remission.

Results and discussion

Results suggest that increased frequency of bowel movements and presence of any flushing symptoms are correlated with decreased quality of life. Treatment groups differed on most Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) global health and PROMIS-29 scores, including physical function, fatigue, pain, social function, and general physical and mental health, with the surgery group reporting significantly better scores than the other groups (effect size of differences ranged from 0.28 to 0.54). This may be possibly due to effective symptom control reached for these patients through surgery alone. After adjustment for carcinoid syndrome, the association with the treatment group disappeared for all domains except physical functioning. In terms of disease status, patients with recurrent disease reported poorer physical, social, and mental functions. Depression scores were similar between groups; however, patients with recurrent disease reported significantly higher anxiety compared to those with no current NET. Physical functioning was even more markedly different between groups, with recurrent NET patients reporting significantly impaired overall physical function, impaired sleep, and significant fatigue compared to those with no current NET. To our knowledge, this is the first study to comprehensively examine the effect of treatment group, disease status, and symptom burden on the quality of life in NET patients in a large sample. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.


Bowel movement Health-related quality of life Neuroendocrine tumor 



The Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network, Carcinoid Cancer Foundation, Inc., Caring for Carcinoid Foundation, and North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society assisted in the distribution of survey invitations.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no financial disclosures to report for this manuscript. The authors have full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review the data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy P. Pearman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jennifer L. Beaumont
    • 1
  • David Cella
    • 1
    • 3
  • Maureen P. Neary
    • 4
  • James Yao
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Medical Social SciencesNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Worldwide Health OutcomesNovartis Pharmaceuticals CorporationEast HanoverUSA
  5. 5.Department of Gastrointestinal Medical OncologyUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA

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