Neuroendocrine tumors (NET) are rare tumors mostly found in the stomach, intestines, pancreas and lungs. These tumors usually have a slow course and patients continue to live with this disease for a long time without any complaints. It is a group of diseases that are very difficult to diagnose, as it can also mix symptoms with different diseases.
Diagnosis in insidious neuroendocrine tumors is also very difficult. For this reason, accurate diagnosis is extremely important for timely treatment. When the disease begins to give symptoms, symptoms usually appear, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, digestive problems, and nausea.
In the diagnosis of neuroendocrine tumors, many different imaging methods can be used, including CT, MRI, PET/CT and ultrasound. PET/CT imaging with FDG, a type of sugar used in the diagnosis of many cancers and the detection of disease spread, is insufficient to detect neuroendocrine cancers. For this reason, Special PET/CT scans using smart molecules are used for neuroendocrine cancers. Gallium-68 DOTATATE PET/CT imaging is used to find and view tumor cells in the body at the molecular level. Gallium-68 DOTATATE is recognized as the current imaging method used for neuroendocrine tumors.
As with other cancers, surgery is the main treatment for neuroendocrine tumors. But because it is a disease that is noticed late, very few patients have a chance to be operated on. In patients who cannot be treated surgically, the most effective treatment that can be used is Lu-177-DOTATATE therapy (peptide receptor radionuclide therapy). Known by names such as lutesium therapy, Lu-177 therapy, this treatment is used as a treatment method that most prolongs the patient’s life expectancy in advanced neuroendocrine tumors.
Lutesium 177-DOTATATE is prepared in laboratories in the hospital and given to the patient by intravenous route in serum. The smart drug enters the cell by finding cancerous tissue through receptors located on it. In this way, the cancerous tissue is irradiated from inside the cell. Therefore, when the cancerous tissue is irradiated, very little damage to normal tissues is provided. During the treatment, the patient does not feel any side effects. After treatment, no significant side effects are expected, except for a temporary and mild decrease in blood values.
Lutetium 177 DOTATATE treatment is usually administered as 3 or 4 cycles at intervals of 6-8 weeks. According to the course of the disease, kidney function, blood values and special calculations, up to 8-10 spheres can be applied.
Patients eligible for treatment are determined by examination by experienced nuclear medicine specialist physicians. After planning the treatment of the patients, smart drug is given through a vein in a protected private room under the supervision of experienced medical personnel, nurses and doctors.
Fact: Advanced stage disease does not always mean end-stage disease. Because most neuroendocrine tumors are relatively slow-growing tumors, with the right treatments, patients can have a chance to live for years.
Fact: Although many neuroendocrine tumors progress much more slowly than other types of cancer, it should be noted that they are still a type of cancer. Therefore, it is extremely important to take into account all the warnings of the medical team in all the treatments related to the disease during the treatment process.
Fact: Many neuroendocrine tumors grow slowly, but some species (high-grade NET’s) can progress very quickly from time to time. For this reason, it is extremely important to make the right diagnosis and to make the right imaging methods. After the assessment, the doctor will make the necessary information about how the disease can progress. However, it should also be noted that the behavior of slow-growing neuroendocrine tumors may not always be predicted.
Fact: As with many other types of cancer, the principle of “no patient, no disease” applies to neuroendocrine tumors. In other words, although patients will have similar experiences, it should be noted that each neuroendocrine tumor patient will show a different course and respond differently to treatments.