BACKGROUND: Platinum-based chemotherapy is the mainstay of front-line treatment of patients affected by pluri-metastatic intermediate/high grade NeuroEndocrine Neoplasms (NENs). However, there are no standard second-line treatments at disease progression. Previous clinical experiences have evidenced that temozolomide (TMZ), an oral analog of dacarbazine, is active against NENs at standard doses of 150 to 200 mg/mq per day on days 1 to 5 of a 28-day cycle, even if a significant treatment-related toxicity is reported.
METHODS: Metastatic NENs patients were treated at the ENETS (European NeuroEndocrine Tumor Society) center of excellence of Naples (Italy), from 2014 to 2017 with a second-line alternative metronomic schedule of TMZ, 75 mg/m2per os "one week on/one week off". Toxicity was graded with NCI-CTC criteria v4.0; objective responses with RECIST v1.1 and performance status (PS) according to ECOG.
RESULTS: Twenty-six consecutive patients were treated. Median age was 65.5 years. The predominant primary organs were pancreas and lung. Grading was G2 in 11 patients, G3 in 15. More than half of patients had a PS 2 (15 vs. 11 with PS 1). The median time-on-temozolomide therapy was 12.2 months (95% CI: 11.4-19.6). No G3/G4 toxicities were registered. Complete response was obtained in 1 patient, partial response in 4, stable disease in 19 (disease control rate: 92.3%), and progressive disease in 2. The median overall survival from TMZ start was 28.3 months. PS improved in 73% of patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Metronomic TMZ is a suitable treatment for G2 and G3 NENs particularly in PS 2 patients. Prospective and larger trials are needed to confirm these results.