Beginning in July 2018, New Orleans Louisiana Neuroendocrine Tumor Specialists (NOLANETS) located at Ochsner Medical Center – Kenner will offer Lutetium 177 DOTA-TATE (Lu 177), a recently FDA-approved Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) for the treatment of neuroendocrine carcinoid tumors found in the pancreas and GI tract. The Neuroendocrine Tumor Program at Ochsner has been a national leader for over a decade in the treatment and management of this slow-growing and often misdiagnosed condition.

A neuroendocrine tumor (NET) is a rare, hormone-producing tumor that affects neuroendocrine cells present throughout the diffuse neuroendocrine system. Carcinoid tumors are the most common NET, and often originate in the lungs, pancreas or gastrointestinal tract.

While NETs are typically managed by various treatment options, Lu 177 is a targeted radiation that halts tumor growth. Ochsner’s Neuroendocrine Program was one of a few in the nation approved to conduct clinical trials with Lu 177 before its FDA approval, and administered the first trial treatments in November 2017. With over 23 patients being treated, providers are seeing positive results with less side effects in comparison to other treatment therapies.

“It’s a game-changer for how we treat these patients. Any time I can help patients by saying we’re going to give you four treatments every two months – for years of benefits, it’s much better than putting a patient on a pill or having them endure chemotherapy which comes with a wide range of side effects. PRRT is better tolerated than other therapies and is highly effective,” said Dr. Robert Ramirez, medical oncologist, Ochsner-Kenner.

Up to this point, patients seeking PRRT treatment have had to travel abroad.

“These therapies were developed in Europe where it had monetary support from the government. Only Americans who could afford it were able to go to Switzerland and other countries to pay for travel and out-of-pocket medical expenses,” noted Dr. Eugene Woltering, surgical oncologist, NOLANETS.

Despite a number of previous treatment interventions, Andrea Sylve’s neuroendocrine tumors were still progressing when she qualified for Ochsner’s clinical trial.

“Surgery was no longer an option and I didn’t have the money to travel. Following my first treatment, it was a more comfortable process than what I’ve done in the past. Dr. Ramirez and his team feel like family. I feel so lucky that they have this in the States now,” recalls Andrea.

Approximately 12,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor every year, indicating the great potential impact of this recent FDA approval.

With the tripled incidence of NETs diagnoses in the last decade alone, there is a huge and unmet need. PRRT will further enhance and increase patient survival another three or four years, allowing time while additional innovative therapies are developed.

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

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