Medical treatment of neuroendocrine tumors

E. Bajetta, M. Di Bartolomeo, N. Zilembo, A. M. Bochicchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Tumors of the neuroendocrine system are characterized by amine precursor uptake and decarboxylation, and they represent a heterogeneous group of carcinomas including carcinoids, islet cell carcinomas of the pancreas, medullary thyroid carcinomas and Merkel cell carcinomas. Their similar cytochemical and ultrastructural properties sustain the hypothesis of a common embryologic origin within the neural crest. Many of these tumors grow slowly, and reducing tumor burden represents the treatment of choice. However, when surgery is not feasible, medical treatment has to be considered. Therapeutic approaches in metastatic disease often do not consider the different biologic behaviors of these neoplasms. Moreover, efficacy of the treatment is associated with lack of a clear definition of the type of response: objective, symptomatic or biochemical. Methods: In this review we have analyzed the different medical approaches used in the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors in an attempt to define their precise role in the different neoplasms. Results: In carcinoid tumors, immunotherapy and the somatostatin analogue can be efficaciously used for the control of carcinoid syndrome. For inhibition of tumor growth, chemotherapy should be used only in patients with rapidly progressive disease, and the results are still unsatisfactory. Conclusions: Although all these tumors appear to have similar cytochemical properties, the responsiveness of the various neoplasms is very different. In the future, a specific treatment modality and a clear definition of the type of response (objective, symptomatic or biochemical) need to be defined for each type of neuroendocrine tumor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-388
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • chemotherapy
  • hormonotherapy
  • immunotherapy
  • neuroendocrine tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Medical treatment of neuroendocrine tumors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this