BACKGROUND: Somatostatin analogues effectively control flushing and diarrhoea in patients with the carcinoid syndrome. The octapeptide lanreotide is available in slow release form, which could eliminate the necessity of twice a day injections as with octreotide. PATIENTS AND METHODS: 39 patients with carcinoid syndrome were included in a prospective multicentre study. Patients received lanreotide 30 mg intramuscularly every 14 days for six months. The number and intensity of flushing episodes and bowel movements, urinary 5 hydroxy-indolacetic acid (5 HIAA) concentrations, and variations of tumour mass were recorded. RESULTS: After one month of treatment, flushing episodes (median (range)) decreased significantly (3 (0.3-24) episodes per day v 1 (0-15), p = 0.04) and completely resolved in 39% of the patients. A significant decrease was seen in the number of bowel movements and discomfort related to diarrhoea. Urinary 5 HIAA concentrations were unchanged in 57% of the patients and decreased in 18%. After six months of treatment, the actuarial proportions of patients with at least a 50% decrease in the number of flushing episodes and bowel movements were 54% and 56%, respectively. Forty two per cent of the patients who were treated for six months had at least a 50% reduction in 5 HIAA values. No clear signs of regression of tumours were seen in any of the patients. Lanreotide was well tolerated despite transient mild pain or erythema at the injection site in 25% of the patients. Biliary lithiasis appeared in two patients after six months of lanreotide. CONCLUSION: Lanreotide, 30 mg intramuscularly every other week, is an effective and convenient treatment in patients with the carcinoid syndrome.
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