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Somatostatin analogues

Men and women discussing carcinoid cancer

This page tells you about somatostatin analogue treatments for carcinoid (neuroendocrine tumours).

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Somatostatin analogues

Somatostatin is a protein made naturally in the body. It slows down the production of many hormones, including gut hormones and growth hormone. It also slows down the emptying of the stomach and bowel, and controls the release of hormones from the pancreas.

If you have carcinoid syndrome you may have a man made type of somatostatin as part of your treatment. This includes octreotide (Sandostatin) and lanreotide (Somatuline). They help to control the hormones that cause diarrhoea and skin flushing. They may also shrink the tumours.

Side effects of somatostatin analogues

The main side effects are loss of appetite, feeling sick, feeling bloated, stomach pain, fatigue (tiredness), and increased diarrhoea (this is rare). You may have raised or lowered blood sugar levels. If you are a diabetic you need to check your blood sugar more often. You may also need fewer diabetic tablets and less insulin.

If you are having octreotide over many months you may develop gallstones. You may have an ultrasound scan of your gallbladder before you start treatment and then every 6 to 12 months. Between 10 and 50 out of 100 people (10 to 50%) will develop gallstones while they are having octreotide. Often the gallstones do not cause any symptoms.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating carcinoid section.

 

 

What somatostatin analogues are

Somatostatin is a protein made naturally in the body by

  • A gland in the brain (hypothalamus)
  • The stomach
  • The pancreas
  • The bowel

Somatostatin does several things

  • It slows down hormone production, including many of the gut hormones
  • It slows down the emptying of the stomach and bowel
  • It controls the release of hormones made by the pancreas, including insulin
  • It slows down or stops the release of growth hormones

If you have carcinoid syndrome you may have a man made type of somatostatin as part of your treatment (somatostatin analogues). The most commonly used drugs are

  • Octreotide (Sandostatin)
  • Lanreotide (Somatuline)

The symptoms of carcinoid syndrome include diarrhoea and flushing. The hormones released by the tumour cause these symptoms. Somatostatin analogues work by slowing down the production of hormones, particularly growth hormone and serotonin. Reducing these hormones helps to control the diarrhoea and skin flushing. They may also shrink the tumour.

You have these drugs by injection either 

  • 2 to 3 times a day
  • once every 7 to 14 days
  • once every 28 days

Most people will have the injections once every 28 days to control their symptoms. Your nurse may give you the injections or they may show you how to give the injection yourself, depending on which drug you have.

 

Side effects of somatostatin analogues

Somatostatin analogues do not usually cause many side effects. The main side effects are

  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling bloated
  • Stomach pain
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Increased diarrhoea (this is rare)
  • Soreness at the injection site

You may have raised or lowered blood sugar levels. If you are a diabetic you need to check your blood sugar more often. You may also need fewer diabetic tablets and less insulin.

If you are having octreotide over many months you may develop gallstones. You may have an ultrasound scan of your gallbladder before you start treatment and then every 6 to 12 months. Between 10 and 50 out of 100 people (10 to 50%) will develop gallstones while they are having octreotide. Most people have no symptoms from the gallstones.

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Updated: 20 June 2016