Study Reveals Combination Therapy for Aggressive, Cancerous Neuroendocrine Tumors
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Study Reveals Combination Therapy for Aggressive, Cancerous Neuroendocrine Tumors

According to a story from EurekAlert!, a recent research study has found that a two part immunotherapy combination treatment has the potential to be a useful treatment for high-grade neuroendocrine carcinoma, a rare form of neuroendocrine tumor. These results come from a trial conducted by the SWOG Cancer Research Network. The findings were recently presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting, which took place this year in Atlanta from March 29th to April 3rd.

About Neuroendocrine Tumors

Neuroendocrine tumors are any kind of abnormal, excessive growth that occurs in cells of the nervous system or endocrine system. They most commonly appear in the digestive tract but can be found in many other areas of the body. Typically, these tumors are not cancerous, but rare forms such as neuroendocrine carcinoma certainly are. There are several heritable disorders that are characterized by the appearance of these tumors. Symptoms may vary widely depending on the location of the tumor and can include bloody cough, pleurisy, pneumonia, heart palpitations, flushing, diarrhea, peripheral edema, abdominal cramps, asthma, and congestive heart failure. There are few treatment options available for the rare, cancerous forms. Treatments may include chemotherapy, surgery, radionuclide therapy, cryoablation, and radiofrequency ablation. Outcomes have been improving for patients in recent years. To learn more about neuroendocrine tumors, click here.

About The Clinical Trial

There are probably only around 12,000 patients with neuroendocrine carcinoma in the US at any given time, but the prevalence of this cancer has begun to increase in recent decades and current treatment options often have little effect. The findings were the result of a large scale trial which is testing the immunotherapy combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab in a variety of different rare cancers. The trial has included over 500 patients with rare cancer so far.

The data from this presentation stems from a cohort of 33 patients with neuroendocrine tumors, including 19 with high grade neuroendocrine carcinoma. There was a clear difference in response between low grade and high grade tumors. Low grade tumors saw no response but 42 percent of high grade tumors responded, seeing their tumors shrink either partially or entirely. 70 percent of patients saw disease progression within six months following treatment and the median duration of survival was 11 months. A small number of patients are still alive and receiving the therapy.

While more study with this combination will be needed, these results are still encouraging for patients with high grade neuroendocrine carcinoma, who have a dire need for more therapeutic options.