Antiproliferative treatment of patients with metastatic endocrine gastroenteropancreatic tumours (GEP) is based mainly on chemotherapeutic protocols whereby drug toxicity is a major handicap. Octreotide is the first choice in the control of hormone mediated symptoms. From retrospective and a few prospective studies it has been suggested that octreotide exhibits antiproliferative properties. The prospective German Sandostatin multicentre phase II trial investigated the effects of 200 micrograms octreotide thrice daily for one year on tumour growth and endocrine abnormalities in 103 patients. Octreotide treatment was continued in those patients responding to the drug until tumour progression occurred. In 28 of those with tumour progression during 200 micrograms thrice daily octreotide dose was increased to 500 micrograms thrice daily. The study sample consisted of 52 patients with computed tomography confirmed tumour progression and 13 patients with stable disease before octreotide treatment, whereas no preobservation period was available in 38 patients. Nineteen patients (36.5%) with computed tomography confirmed tumour progression experienced stabilisation of tumour growth lasting for at least three months. Median duration of stable disease was 18 months. At month 12, stable disease continued in 12 patients, declined after 24 months to nine patients, and after 36 months to five patients. Tumour regression has not been seen in this or other subgroups. In the subgroup with stable disease before octreotide, stable disease continued in 53.8% of patients over 12 months. Increase of octreotide dose to 500 micrograms thrice daily did not influence progression seen during the lower dose with the exception of one patient in whom tumour progression changed to stable disease. No association of tumour size response and patients' characteristics could be detected. The results suggest that octreotide inhibits tumour growth in patients with metastasised endocrine GEP tumours. The antiproliferative effect is, at least in some patients, longlasting. Currently, octreotide can only be recommended as an antiproliferative drug if patients with clearly progressive disease show stabilisation after treatment for three to six months.
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