New Method for the Treatment of Neuroendocrine Tumours

A new radioisotope therapy, so far used only in a few European institutions, has become available at the Clinical Centre of the University of Debrecen. The new treatment was first used on a patient with an endocrine tumour in Debrecen on 12 May.

Neuroendocrine tumours are neoplasms that arise from neuroendocrine cells, which can be found at various locations in the human body. They most commonly occur in the gastro-intestinal tract, in the pancreas or in the mucous membrane of the bronchial system, but they can appear in practically any organ. If the tumour is unresectable, in most cases it can still be successfully treated with medication. However, in the case of tumours that have been diagnosed too late and have already metastasized, radioisotope therapy may be the best treatment option.

- The cells of this tumour contain a specific protein that is not present, or only in a small amount, in healthy cells. During the treatment 177Lu oxodotreotide is administered to the patients, which is able to form a bond only with this specific protein, and therefore only with the tumour cells. The surplus amount leaves the body with urine. The product contains radioactive material that, after forming the bond, reduces in size or terminates the tumour and its metastases through local radiation. The new method can lengthen the lives of patients significantly – explained Endre Nagy, professor of the Department of Internal Medicine of the Clinical Centre to

For now, only a few types of endocrine tumours can be treated with the new method, but research is underway all around the world with other medications.

- This therapy requires specific background, instruments and expertise, which are available only in a few centres in Hungary. Following the administration of the radioactive material, we check, using SPECT/CT, whether the tumour has taken up the therapeutic product. In line with the radiation protection rules, patients are isolated for the time of the treatment. The therapy can be repeated. One series generally consists of 4 treatments, usually 1 per 8 weeks – explained Ildikó Garai, associate professor of the Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medical Imaging Clinic, Faculty of Medicine, UD.

The treatment was first used in Hungary at the Clinical Centre of UD and at the Semmelweis University on 12 May. Until now, Hungarian endocrinologists and oncologists have sent their patients to treatment centres located abroad, mainly to the one in Basel, Switzerland, as the treatment was available only in a few European centres.

In the last five years, the four Hungarian universities offering degree programmes in medicine have worked together to prepare the introduction of this therapy, which has now become available to Hungarian patients.

Press Centre - CzA