Research & Education
Other techniques may be used to destroy a tumor, and sometimes the techniques are used during a surgical procedure.
In ablation therapy, a probe is inserted directly into the tumor. Energy is passed through the probe, which heats the tumor cells beyond the boiling point and kills them, without damaging healthy tissue around the tumor. Carcinoid tumors respond quite well to ablation.
Ablation is much less invasive than surgery. Ablation is an outpatient procedure done under heavy sedation. Patients go home the same day with a Band-Aid. Surgeons can also perform ablation on patients during a surgical procedure.
Types of ablation include:
Embolization is a procedure that packs a one-two punch. The procedure sends anticancer agents directly into the tumor. The procedure also cuts off the blood supply to the tumor, effectively starving the tumor and keeping the treatment at the disease site. Carcinoid tumors tend to have a particularly rich blood supply, which makes them a particularly good candidate for embolization.
Embolization has relatively few side effects because the chemotherapy drugs or radiation are so localized and don’t travel throughout the body. Since it’s not as toxic as chemotherapy or radiation, embolization can be used when other treatments have failed without decreasing a person’s quality of life.
Embolization treatments generally are completed in two to three sessions.
Roswell Park offers two treatments using this approach:
Drugs called somatostatin analogs have been shown to control symptoms as well as slow down tumor cell growth. They can minimize the need for surgeries and other procedures. They are given as injections on an outpatient basis.
These drugs are generally given intravenously. They are used less often now that newer, less toxic oral drugs are available and have more favorable response rates. Interferon alpha (given as a subcutaneous injection) continues to be used for carcinoid tumors.
Recent clinical studies of novel agents have demonstrated promising activity in patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumors.
These tumors have aberrant signaling between cells, and newer therapies aim to block those signaling pathways. This would interfere with the growth and spread of neuroendocrine tumors.
Ongoing randomized studies should help better define the role these and other targeted agents will play in the future treatment of patients with this disease.