Options for stage 4 cancer patients continue to evolve

Options for stage 4 cancer patients continue to evolve

Patients with advanced Stage 4 neuroendocrine tumors of the small intestine and pancreas have a new avenue for treatment, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late January 2018 after encouraging results of a clinical study appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This new treatment, called PRRT, or Lutetium 177 dotatate, is a targeted radiation treatment designed to destroy cancer cells by delivering doses of radiation directly to tumors while protecting healthy tissue. PRRT, which stands for peptide receptor radionuclide therapy, may help patients with these slow-growing tumors, which have spread to other organs, have longer term-survival and a better quality of life.

It is estimated that more than 15,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor each year. Dr. Edward James, a hematologist/oncologist specializing in gastro-intestinal cancers at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., says PRRT, which patients typically receive on an outpatient basis, could be an option for approximately 20 percent of these patients.

From September 2012 through January 2016, the NETTER-1 trial recruited 230 patients across Europe and the U.S. to participate. “These patients had been on other forms of treatment, but their disease was progressing. By June 2018, the results showed that patients on PRRT were achieving extra time and a better quality of life without their disease progressing,” Dr. James says.

“PRRT was shown to relieve symptoms; patients reported less fatigue, abdominal discomfort, pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. They also reported having a better appetite,” says Dr. James. “In some patients, tumor sized decreased. There was also less risk of bowel obstruction.”

PRRT is now available at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital as part of the hospital’s robust cancer service line. If you feel this treatment may be an option for you, Dr. James recommends talking to your oncologist or calling 847-268-8200 to schedule a consultation at the Center for Advanced Care at Advocate Lutheran. For more information about cancer care in Illinois, click here. If you live in Wisconsin, click here.

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About the Author

Kate Eller
Kate Eller

Kate Eller was a regional director of public affairs and marketing operations for Advocate Health Care. She enjoys road trips, dogs, minimalism, yoga, hiking, and “urban hiking.”