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Annemiek Walenkamp, Guillermo Crespo, Felipe Fierro Maya, Reidar Fossmark, Peter Igaz, Anja Rinke, Gianluca Tamagno, Giovanni Vitale, Kjell Öberg and Tim Meyer

In the past few years, there have been advances in the treatment of neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) and improvements in our understanding of NET biology. However, the benefits to patients have been relatively modest and much remains yet to be done. The ‘Hallmarks of Cancer’, as defined by Hanahan and Weinberg, provide a conceptual framework for understanding the aberrations that underlie tumourigenesis and to help identify potential targets for therapy. In this study, our objective is to review the major molecular characteristics of NETs, based on the recently modified ‘Hallmarks of Cancer’, and highlight areas that require further research.

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Martin Gotthardt, Martin P Béhé, Julia Grass, Artur Bauhofer, Anja Rinke, Meike L Schipper, Marc Kalinowski, Rudolf Arnold, Wim J G Oyen and Thomas M Behr

Gastrin receptor scintigraphy (GRS) is a new imaging method primarily developed for the detection of metastases of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). As gastrin-binding CCK2 receptors are also expressed on a variety of other neuroendocrine tumours (NET), we compared GRS to somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (SRS) in patients with NET. SRS and GRS were performed within 21 days in a series of 60 consecutive patients with NET. GRS was directly compared with SRS. If lesions were visible on GRS but not detectable by SRS, other imaging modalities (MRI, CT) and follow-up were used for verification. Of the 60 evaluable patients, 51 had carcinoid tumours, 3 gastrinomas, 2 glucagonomas, 1 insulinoma and 3 paragangliomas. The overall tumour-detection rate was 73.7% for GRS and 82.1% for SRS. In the 11 patients with negative SRS, GRS was positive in 6 (54.5%). Based on the number of tumour sites detected and the degree of uptake, GRS performed better than SRS in 13 patients (21.7%), equivalent images were obtained in 18 cases (30.0%) and SRS performed better in 24 (40.0%) cases. In six of the SRS positive patients, 18 additional sites of tumour involvement could be detected. Overall, GRS detected additional tumour sites in 20% of the patients. Localisation of the primary tumours or their functional status had no influence on the outcome of imaging. GRS should be performed in selected patients as it may provide additional information in patients with NET with equivocal or absent somatostatin uptake.

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Nele Garbrecht, Martin Anlauf, Anja Schmitt, Tobias Henopp, Bence Sipos, Andreas Raffel, Claus F Eisenberger, Wolfram T Knoefel, Marianne Pavel, Christian Fottner, Thomas J Musholt, Anja Rinke, Rudolf Arnold, Uta Berndt, Ursula Plöckinger, Bertram Wiedenmann, Holger Moch, Philipp U Heitz, Paul Komminoth, Aurel Perren and Günter Klöppel

Somatostatin-producing neuroendocrine tumors (SOM-NETs) of the duodenum and pancreas appear to be heterogeneous. To determine their clinicopathological profiles, respective data were analyzed on a series of 82 duodenal and 541 pancreatic NETs. In addition, the clinical records of 821 patients with duodenal or pancreatic NETs were reviewed for evidence of a somatostatinoma syndrome. Predominant or exclusive expression of somatostatin was found in 21 (26%) duodenal and 21 (4%) pancreatic NETs. They were classified as sporadic (n=31) or neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1)-associated duodenal NETs (n=3), gangliocytic paragangliomas (GCPGs; n=6), or poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas (pdNECs; n=2). In addition, five duodenal and four pancreatic SOM-NETs were found in five patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1). Metastases occurred in 13 (43%) patients with sporadic or NF1-associated SOM-NETs, but in none of the duodenal or pancreatic MEN1-associated SOM-NETs or GCPGs. Sporadic advanced (stage IV) SOM-NETs were more commonly detected in the pancreas than in the duodenum. None of the patients (including the 821 patients for whom only the clinical records were reviewed) fulfilled the criteria of a somatostatinoma syndrome. Our data show that somatostatin expression is not only seen in sporadic NETs but may also occur in GCPGs, pdNECs, and hereditary NETs. Surgical treatment is effective in most duodenal and many pancreatic SOM-NETs. MEN1-associated SOM-NETs and GCPGs follow a benign course, while somatostatin-producing pdNECs are aggressive neoplasms. The occurrence of the so-called somatostatinoma syndrome appears to be extremely uncommon.

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Esben Andreas Carlsen, Nicola Fazio, Dan Granberg, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Hojjat Ahmadzadehfar, Chiara Maria Grana, Wouter T Zandee, Jaroslaw Cwikla, Martin A Walter, Peter Sandor Oturai, Anja Rinke, Andrew Weaver, Andrea Frilling, Sara Gritti, Anne Kirstine Arveschoug, Amichay Meirovitz, Ulrich Knigge and Halfdan Sorbye

Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) is an established treatment of metastatic neuroendocrine tumors grade 1–2 (G1–G2). However, its possible benefit in high-grade gastroenteropancreatic (GEP) neuroendocrine neoplasms (NEN G3) is largely unknown. We therefore aimed to assess the benefits and side effects of PRRT in patients with GEP NEN G3. We performed a retrospective cohort study at 12 centers to assess the efficacy and toxicity of PRRT in patients with GEP NEN G3. Outcomes were response rate, disease control rate, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) and toxicity. We included 149 patients (primary tumor: pancreatic n = 89, gastrointestinal n = 34, unknown n = 26). PRRT was first-line (n = 30), second-line (n = 62) or later-line treatment (n = 57). Of 114 patients evaluated, 1% had complete response, 41% partial response, 38% stable disease and 20% progressive disease. Of 104 patients with documented progressive disease before PRRT, disease control rate was 69%. The total cohort had median PFS of 14 months and OS of 29 months. Ki-67 21–54% (n = 125) vs Ki-67 ≥55% (n = 23): PFS 16 vs 6 months (P < 0.001) and OS 31 vs 9 months (P < 0.001). Well (n = 60) vs poorly differentiated NEN (n = 62): PFS 19 vs 8 months (P < 0.001) and OS 44 vs 19 months (P < 0.001). Grade 3–4 hematological or renal toxicity occurred in 17% of patients. This large multicenter cohort of patients with GEP NEN G3 treated with PRRT demonstrates promising response rates, disease control rates, PFS and OS as well as toxicity in patients with mainly progressive disease. Based on these results, PRRT may be considered for patients with GEP NEN G3.