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Treatment Strategies for Metastatic Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Gastrointestinal Tract

Opinion statement

The therapeutic landscape of gastroenteropancreatic-neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs) has evolved significantly in recent years. Current and emerging treatment options include somatostatin analogs, radiolabeled somatostatin analogs, the mTOR inhibitor everolimus, and the tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib. Although high-quality data from phase III trials are lacking, cytotoxic agents are commonly used for the treatment of poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas and well-differentiated NETs originating in the pancreas. Hepatic-directed therapies are recommended for patients with slow-growing, liver-predominant disease but have never been compared to systemic agents. Telotristat ethyl, a novel serotonin synthesis inhibitor, has recently demonstrated efficacy in palliating diarrhea in patients with poorly controlled carcinoid syndrome. In the absence of definite predictive biomarkers, therapeutic decisions in most cases rely on clinical and pathological criteria. However, navigating the current therapeutic algorithm may be challenging, and future trials need to address several important questions: what is the best sequence of treatment? Is there a role for combination therapies in GEP-NETs? Are neoadjuvant, adjuvant, or maintenance strategies safe and effective? Do all NET patients require active treatment? What new molecular targets can be clinically exploited? A tight integration between basic and clinical research is needed to further advance the field of NETs.

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Correspondence to Jonathan Strosberg MD.

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Mauro Cives declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Jonathan Strosberg has performed consultation for Novartis, Pfizer, Genentech, and Ipsen within institutional conflict-of-interest payment guidelines.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Lower Gastrointestinal Cancers

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Cives, M., Strosberg, J. Treatment Strategies for Metastatic Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Gastrointestinal Tract. Curr. Treat. Options in Oncol. 18, 14 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11864-017-0461-5

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Keywords

  • Carcinoid tumors
  • NETTER-1
  • RADIANT-4
  • CLARINET
  • TELESTAR