Systemic therapy for advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors: An update
Well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) can be subdivided into carcinoid and pancreatic NETs (pancNETs). Although these tumors share many morphologic and clinical characteristics, carcinoid tumors appear to be far less sensitive to therapeutic agents than pancNETs, and recent advances approved for pancNETs have not been submitted for FDA approval in patients with carcinoid tumors. Treatment options for patients with advanced pancNETs are multidisciplinary and include surgical resection, liver-directed therapies, and systemic therapies. Cytotoxic therapies, such as temozolomide, fluorouracil, oxaliplatin, and streptozocin-based chemotherapy regimens, are active against some pancNETs, and can play a role in the palliation of patients with advanced disease and symptoms related to tumor bulk. Two therapies were recently approved for progressive well-differentiated pancNETs: sunitinib and everolimus. Both agents showed improved progression-free survival in patients with progressive pancNETs, but can also result in nontrivial toxicities, and therefore should only be considered in patients with progressing and advanced or symptomatic disease. This article discusses these recent trials and provides an update of systemic treatment options in patients with well-differentiated pancNETs.