New Therapy for Rare Tumors


Photo Neuroendocrine Team

Stony Brook University Cancer Center Offers New Therapy for Rare Pancreatic and Gastrointestinal Tumors

There’s new hope for patients with pancreas or gastrointestinal neuroendocrine (also known as carcinoid) tumors, a rare form of cancer. Tumors start in the intestinal tract, often causing severe diarrhea. The tumors can then grow and spread to other parts of the body, including vital organs such as the liver. Until now, patients with this cancer had limited treatment options.

But in April 2019, a breakthrough therapy called Lutathera®, which was recently approved by the FDA, was used for the first time on Long Island at Stony Brook University Cancer Center.

Lutathera is a combination of two drugs that attacks cancer cells: Lutetium 177, a radioactive element, with Dotatate, an octreotide, that can target somatostatin presenting neuroendocrine tumors. This is a personalized targeted approach using peptide receptor radionucleotide therapy. The course of treatment is four Lutathera infusion treatments every two months. 

This new IV therapy has been shown in clinical trials to significantly extend life, as well as improve quality of life with improved symptom management. According to studies, treatment led to a 48 percent reduction in the estimated risk of death, and 79 percent reduction in the risk of disease progression. 

Lutathera treatment requires significant training and a high level of expertise and coordination by a multidisciplinary team, including expert medical oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians and technologists, nurses, radiation safety professionals and pharmacists. Being able to offer this in-demand treatment to patients just months after FDA approval is a credit to the expertise and team-centered approach at our Cancer Center.

Is Lutathera treatment appropriate for you?
If you have been diagnosed with pancreas or gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors, you or your doctor can call our Nurse Navigator, Patty Zirpoli, RN, to schedule an evaluation for Lutathera treatment at (631) 444-8086.

The Neuroendocrine Team (photo, l to r), Yue Zhang, MD; Rao Chimpiri, MD; Aaron Sasson, MD; Teresa Manning-Carter, NP; Georgios Georgakis, MD, PhD; Sui Y. Zee, MD; Robert Matthews, MD; Jela Bandovic, MD; Patricia Zirpoli, RN; Shannen T. Harbourne, RN; Minsig Choi, MD. Not in photo: Alexander Stessin, MD, PhD, and Ana Franceschi, MD.