Medical management to treat symptoms from hormones
Some NETs can release hormones that cause symptoms such as facial flushing (heat and redness) or severe diarrhea. These NETs are termed “functional.” The classic example of a functional NET is called carcinoid syndrome, which occurs when a NET secretes serotonin. Using medications, we can minimize symptoms and slow down a tumor’s growth.
Somatostatin analogues (octreotide and lanreotide) are the main treatment for functional NETs. For people with severe diarrhea from carcinoid syndrome who need treatment in addition to somatostatin analogues, we can add telotristat. This new oral medication blocks the production of serotonin.
For each person living with a NET, we develop a survivorship plan to support your emotional health, primary care needs, and medication side effects. Our dietitians have special expertise in gastrointestinal NETs. They also give courses on eating to relieve symptoms, such as tips on limiting serotonin-containing foods for people with carcinoid syndrome.
For some slow-growing tumors, we may recommend active surveillance (watching the tumor but not yet treating it). Our team has the expertise to accurately estimate which tumors are unlikely to need treatment, thus avoiding unnecessary surgeries.