The WVU Cancer Institute is participating in the implementation of a new drug therapy for the treatment of somatostatin receptor-positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs), a type of tumor that can form in the pancreas or in other parts of the gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, and appendix. These life-threatening tumors can spread to other organs, such as the liver.

Lutetium Lu 177 dotatate, known by the brand name Lutathera®, is a form of radiation therapy that slows the progress of these tumors. It is delivered intravenously in four doses administered over eight weeks and is indicated for adult patients with low- to mid-grade somatostatin receptor-positive GEP-NETs.

“This new therapy is a way to provide treatment to our patients without the side effects of previous forms of treatment,” Shalu Pahuja, MD, medical oncologist at the WVU Cancer Institute, said. “This drug slows the progress of the tumor in order to give them more time to spend with their family and loved ones.”

The use of this treatment of GEP-NETs was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January. This is the first time a radioactive drug, or radiopharmaceutical, has been approved for the treatment of GEP-NETs.

“This treatment can greatly improve the quality of life for patient with GEP-NET tumors,” Gary Marano, MD, medical director of PET/CT at WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, said. “We are the only hospital in the state approved to use Lutathera, so this allows us to have a significant impact in the lives of these patients.”

For more information on the WVU Cancer Institute, visit www.wvumedicine.org/cancer.