Targeted therapies

Sunitinib

Sunitinib (which is marketed as Sutent) is used to treat cancer by preventing the activity of a special group of proteins which are known to be involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. It can also stop cancer cells from developing new blood vessels. In the UK, Sunitinib is licensed for use in the treatment of well-differentiated pancreatic NETs, that are continuing to grow (“progressing”), and cannot be removed by surgery.

What’s involved?

Sunitinib comes as a capsule. You take the capsules once a day, at the same time each day, with a glass of water. It can be taken with or without food. Avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice during treatment as this can interfere with the way the drug is used by the body. You’ll have regular blood tests before you start taking Sunitinib and while you’re taking it. Treatment with Sunitinib continues for as long as it appears to be controlling your NET, and is well tolerated (that is no or minimal side effects). Sunitinib may not be given if you have certain health conditions – such as severe hypertension or heart disease – or are on certain drugs.

Please ensure that your care team is aware of all of your medical history and medications.

Everolimus

Everolimus (which is marketed as Afinitor) is used to treat well-differentiated and moderately-differentiated pancreatic NETs that can’t be removed by surgery, have spread and are growing. It’s also used to treat non-functional gastrointestinal and lung NETs. It works by blocking a particular protein, called mTOR, that causes cancer cells to grow. Everolimus may also stop cancer cells from developing blood vessels. Without a blood supply, cells are starved of oxygen and nutrients and so can’t grow. In the UK, Everolimus is licensed for use in advanced non-functioning neuroendocrine tumours that originate from the stomach, bowels, lung or pancreas. That is NETs that are progressing and are inoperable and do not overproduce specific hormones or other related natural substances.

What’s involved?

Everolimus comes as a capsule. You take the capsules once a day, at the same time each day, with a glass of water. It can be taken with or without food. Avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice during treatment as this can interfere with the way the drug is used by the body. You’ll have regular blood tests before you start taking Everolimus and while you’re taking it. Treatment with Everolimus continues for as long as it appears to be controlling your NET, and is well tolerated (that is no or minimal side effects). Everolimus may not be given if you have certain health conditions – such as diabetes or respiratory disease i.e. asthma – or are on certain drugs.

Please ensure that your care team is aware of all of your medical history and medications.

Source: NET Patient Foundation Handbook