Practical Guide to Supportive Care of Patients With Functional Neuroendocrine Tumors

Anthony, Lowell B.

Semin Oncol. 2013; 40: 45-55

Abstract: Supportive care of patients with functional neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) has evolved to include the use of multiple targeted agents to control paraneoplastic states and newer surgical and interventional radiologic techniques to reduce tumor bulk. Challenges encountered by the clinician are the recognition of specific symptom complexes, selecting the relevant laboratory tests and radiologic/scintigraphic scans, and the timing of intervention(s). Individual variables such as the severity of symptoms in the context of primary and metastatic disease sites, tumor bulk, comorbidities, and previous treatment are factors determining the prioritization of specific treatment regimens for patients with functional NETs. Symptoms such as flushing, secretory diarrhea, hypercalcemia, hyper/hypoglycemia, hypercortisolism, and peptic ulcers should improve with decreasing the elevated amino acid and/or peptide levels produced by NETs. These paraneoplastic symptoms may be accompanied by complaints related to tumor burden such as fatigue, pain, early satiety, anorexia, weight loss, night sweats, and/or symptoms secondary to adverse drug effectssuch as mucositis, dysgeusia, diarrhea, rash, hypertension, and myelosuppression. Developing a comprehensive continuum of care plan early in disease management assists in controlling the presenting signs and symptoms, and in minimizing disease- and/or treatment-related side effects. This guide serves as a framework to manage the signs and symptoms of metastatic functional neuroendocrine tumors.

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