An important development in the treatment of cancer patients with advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNET) was presented at the ESMO Conference: 12th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer, held in Barcelona, Spain from June 30 through July 3. Nearly 400 studies overall were presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology conference, outlining research taking place throughout the world.
Dr. James C. Yao of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, presented results from a phase III clinical trial (RADIANT-3) on everolimus (RAD001), an oral inhibitor of the protein mTOR. mTOR may be more active in some types of cancer cells than it is in normal cells. Blocking mTOR may cause the cancer cells to die.
The results of the clinical trial indicate a prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) with everolimus that is considerably higher compared to a placebo. Progression-free survival is the length of time during and after treatment in which a patient is living with a disease that does not get worse. Dr. Yao’s results are of particular significance because treatment options for patients with advanced pNET are limited.
A second pNET study of immediate interest to clinicians examined the quality of life in patients with progressive pancreatic NET receiving sunitinib, with the results indicating an overall clinical benefit for all the patient subgroups studied.
In a March 2009 interview with Dr. Yao about his work with neuroendocrine tumors, Dr. Yao pointed out that while NETs were once considered extremely uncommon, the data suggests that they are less rare than most people think. “If you look at prevalence within the realm of gastrointestinal neoplasms, neuroendocrine tumors are second only to colon cancer. They are actually more common than stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, and hepatobiliary tumors,” noted Dr. Yao. To read the complete interview, click here.