What are Neuroendocrine Tumors?

Neuroendocrine tumors (NET) originate from neuroendocrine cells, which are tissues of both the endocrine and nervous systems. These cells release neurotransmitters, cell messengers or hormones into the body. Neuroendocrine cells contain properties similar to those of nerve cells in addition to functioning like glandular tissue, and thus are named accordingly. 

75% of all neuroendocrine tumors are categorized as gastrointestinal pancreatic tumors.1 Gastrointestinal pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NET) develop from specific neuroendocrine cells, found throughout the digestive system or related parts of the body. These cells function to produce chemical substances which operate our digestive processes. 

These neuroendocrine tumors predominantly affect older patients between ages 50-70, and women and men are affected nearly equally. NETs belong to a category of diseases known as rare diseases, with 2-4 new cases diagnosed per 100,000 individuals (German Cancer Society).

Often, these neuroendocrine tumors and their metastasized tissues contain an increased number of specific receptors on their cell surface, which are detectable via PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computerized Tomography) or SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) diagnostic imaging techniques. The Targeted Radionuclide Therapy 177Lu-Edotreotide binds to these receptors, thus beginning the effective treatment.

 

1 U.-F. Pape, M. Böhmig, u. a.: Diagnostik und Therapie gastroenteropankreatischer neuroendokriner Tumore aus internistischer Sicht. In: Der Onkologe. Band 6, Nummer 7, 2000, S. 105–113.