Ochsner Medical Center – Kenner Opens New Infusion Space for Neuroendocrine Tumor Therapy

NEW ORLEANS – To meet the growing demand from patients across the country, Ochsner Medical Center- Kenner (OMC-Kenner) opened a new, dedicated infusion space to administer the recently FDA-approved Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) for the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). OMC-Kenner is one of about 100 sites in the country to offer PRRT and is the only site in Louisiana.

A NET is a rare, hormone-producing tumor that affects neuroendocrine cells, which are present throughout the nervous and endocrine systems. NETs can originate anywhere in the body. Carcinoid tumors, however, are the most common kind detected and are usually found in the lungs or GI tract. Most of the time it grows very slowly and because it is so often difficult to detect, diagnosis is delayed on average of 10 years. Approximately 12,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor every year.

“NET diagnoses have tripled in the last decade alone, so there is a huge and unmet need. Treatment is multi-disciplinary, with local and systemic forms of therapies available. With new agents on the horizon, the challenge now becomes to shrink the disease, while continuing to improve the quality of life,” said Robert Ramirez, DO, FACP, medical oncologist, OMC-Kenner.

OMC-Kenner is home to the Neuroendocrine Program, which specializes in the diagnosis and management of all forms of neuroendocrine tumors. It has been a national leader for more than a decade in the treatment and management of this condition. The Neuroendocrine Program at OMC-Kenner is witnessing more people living beyond 10 years. This can be attributed to advancements in clinical trials, surgical and non-surgical procedures and medical management.

One such advancement is the treatment option of PRRT, a targeted radiation that halts tumor growth. For years, OMC-Kenner has been administering this therapy via an Internal Review Board-approved clinical research trial, but it was approved by the FDA in July 2018 to dispense commercially. To date, the program has administered more than 150 treatments, with 31 patients completing the infusion course and 40 patients currently in active treatment. Up until last summer, patients seeking this therapy had to travel abroad. OMC-Kenner’s expanded infusion space has allowed PRRT to be administered to more patients who need it, while enhancing and increasing patient survival an additional three or four years while newer innovative therapies are developed.

Catherine Pittman’s Story

Breast cancer survivor Catherine Pittman, 84, was living in Mobile, Ala. when she was diagnosed with NET in 2013. After diligent research on treatment options, she discovered there were few places in the country that were equipped to treat her condition. She chose OMC-Kenner based on its reputation in the NET community and its proximity to family.

Catherine initially treated her NET surgically and with chemotherapy but became interested in PRRT when it was introduced to her as an alternative. She completed her six-month PRRT course in January 2019; she was the first Ochsner patient to do so after it was approved by the FDA.

Catherine returns to OMC- Kenner once a month for a shot of Lanreotide, an injection that helps slow NET growth. She also has routine scans and sees Dr. Ramirez every six months to monitor her condition. The oldest of eight children, Catherine is a natural caretaker and spends her time managing her brother’s property, gardening and taking care of her rescue dog, Sport, in Albany, La.

“I am a very active person and my diagnosis has not slowed me down. On my brother’s property, I cut down trees, rake leaves and do whatever needs to be done,” Pittman shared. “I think there is no place like Ochsner. If not for them, I would have only lived another two or three weeks after my diagnosis.”

The Neuroendocrine Program at OMC– Kenner, NOLANETS, is an affiliation between Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and Ochsner Medical Center and specializes in the diagnosis and management of all forms of neuroendocrine tumors. For more information, please visit www.ochsner.org/nets.

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About Ochsner Health System

Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 40 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and specialty hospitals, and more than 100 health centers and urgent care centers. Ochsner is the #1 ranked hospital in Louisiana by U.S. News & World Report and is recognized as a “Best Hospital” across two specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 70 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs nearly 25,000 employees and over 4,500 employed and affiliated physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts more than 700 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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