PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs) constitute a diverse group of neoplasms arising from the diffuse neuroendocrine cell system. During the last 2 years a new classification system, the WHO 2010, has come into clinical practice together with Tumor Nodes Metastases (TNM) staging and grading systems, developed by the European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society/American Joint Cancer Committee. At the same time new targeted agents have been developed for treatment of GEP-NETs and it is important discuss these new agents in relation to the classification and staging system.
The current article is reviewing the most important clinical trials of targeting agents within the field of neuroendocrine tumors. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors as well as PI3 kinase mTOR inhibitors have been applied in the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors.
Sunitinib and everolimus have recently been registered for treatment of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors worldwide. The role of these new targeted agents in the treatment algorithm of neuroendocrine tumors will be discussed. A large number of phase I and phase II trials have been performed in GEP-NETs with rather limited results and no significant impact on the clinical management of patients with GEP-NETs. However, there are two phase III trials that have completely changed the treatment landscape for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, e.g., sunitinib and everolimus demonstrating an increased progression free survival of 11 vs. 5 months for the placebo group.