Scott Paulson, MD, co-director of the Gastrointestinal Research Program for The US Oncology Network, medical director for the Neuroendocrine Research and Treatment Center at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, Baylor University Medical Center, discusses the unmet need for symptom control in patients with gastrointestinal cancers.
Symptom control is especially important for approximately 20% of patients who have tumors that create a lot of hormone. This specific type of tumor can have a high symptom burden even if not from what is typically associated with cancer-causing symptoms. These patients, if not treated aggressively enough, can have a poor quality of life.
New therapies such as the recently approved telotrisat (Xermelo) have helped lower the amount of serotonin production for patients with Carcinoid syndrome and patients who have refractory Carcinoid syndrome. For these patients, symptoms such as diarrhea and flushing may dominate their entire day, but getting these symptoms under control can significantly alter their daily quality of life. This, coupled with the ability to reduce tumors with things like personalized radiation therapy and better surgical- and liver-directed techniques can take someone who is very sick with a carcinoid tumor or neuroendocrine tumor and lead to improvements in their quality of life.