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Lanreotide (Somatuline)

Lanreotide (also known as Somatuline) is a man made (synthetic) version of the natural hormone somatostatin.

You might have it as a treatment:

  • for carcinoid syndrome
  • to control the growth of some advanced neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) of the intestine and pancreas when surgery is not possible

Carcinoid syndrome is a group of symptoms that some people get when they have a neuroendocrine tumour Open a glossary item (NET). The symptoms happen when the NET makes large amounts of hormones.

Carcinoid syndrome is more common in people with a NET that has spread to the liver.

How does lanreotide work?

Somatostatin is a hormone made naturally in the body. It slows down or stops the production of a number of hormones such as insulin and gut hormones. It also controls the emptying of the stomach and bowel. 

Lanreotide is a synthetic version of somatostatin (a somatostatin analogue) and slows down the production of hormones. This helps to control the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome and slow down the growth of the cancer.

Some of the symptoms you may have with carcinoid syndrome include flushing of the skin, diarrhoea, and tummy (abdominal) pain.

How do you have lanreotide?

You have lanreotide as an injection under the skin (subcutaneous) or into the muscle (intramuscular).

As an injection under the skin

You have an injection under the skin into your bottom or upper thigh.

Your nurse usually gives you the injections or they might show you how to do this yourself. They can also show a family member or friend how to give you the injections.

Your skin around the injection site might go red and itchy for some time after the injection. It’s important that you regularly change the site where you give the injection.

The video below shows you how to give an injection under the skin. 

As an injection into the muscle

Your nurse gives you the injection in your bottom. They vary the site of the injection. So you might have one injection on the right side and the next injection on the left.

You usually have a stinging or dull ache for a short time, but they don’t usually hurt much. 

How often do you have lanreotide?

You usually start having lanreotide injections every 2 to 4 weeks. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor might change the amount (dose) and length of time between your injections. 

If you are having lanreotide to control the growth of your NET, you continue this for as long as it is working, and the side effects aren’t too bad.

Tests

You have blood tests before and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

What are the side effects of lanreotide?

We haven't listed all the side effects. It is very unlikely that you will have all of these side effects, but you might have some of them at the same time.

How often and how severe the side effects are can vary from person to person. They also depend on what other treatment you are having. For example, your side effects could be worse if you are also having other drugs or radiotherapy.

When to contact your team

Your doctor or nurse will go through the possible side effects. They will monitor you closely during treatment and check how you are at your appointments. Contact your advice line as soon as possible if:

  • you have severe side effects
  • your side effects aren’t getting any better
  • your side effects are getting worse
Early treatment can help manage side effects better.

Common side effects

These side effects happen in more than 10 in 100 people (more than 10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

Diarrhoea

Contact your advice line if you have diarrhoea, such as if you've had 4 or more loose watery poos (stools) in 24 hours. Or if you can't drink to replace the lost fluid. Or if it carries on for more than 3 days.

Your doctor may give you anti diarrhoea medicine to take home with you after treatment. Eat less fibre, avoid raw fruits, fruit juice, cereals and vegetables, and drink plenty to replace the fluid lost.

Tummy (abdominal) pain

This drug can cause tummy pain, or less often you might feel bloated and uncomfortable. Tell your healthcare team if you have this. They can check the cause and give you medicine to help.

Gallstones

Gallstones are hard lumps, like little rocks that form in the gallbladder. In most cases, they don’t cause symptoms and you don’t need to have treatment unless you have:

  • a high temperature
  • severe and sudden tummy (abdominal) pain
  • yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)

Occasional side effects

These side effects happen in between 1 and 10 out of every 100 people (between 1 and 10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

  • weight loss
  • weakness
  • a slow heartbeat that usually goes back to normal when you stop treatment
  • loss of appetite
  • poo (stool) that floats, looks pale, has a bad smell caused by too much fat or more rarely your poo may be a different colour
  • dizziness, tiredness and headaches, do not drive or operate machinery if you have any of these particular side effects
  • pain in your muscles and bones
  • hair loss or slower growth of hair on your body
  • problems with the injection site such as pain, hard skin and itching
  • liver changes that are unlikely to cause you problems
  • changes in blood sugar levels
  • feeling or being sick
  • constipation
  • heartburn and indigestion
  • wind (flatulence)
  • increase in the size of the tubes between your liver and the gallbladder (the bile ducts) which can cause jaundice, feeling sick and high temperature

Rare side effects

These effects happen in fewer than 1 in 100 people (less than 1%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

  • hot flushes
  • difficulty sleeping
  • changes in the levels of minerals in your body

Coping with side effects

We have more information about side effects and tips on how to cope with them.

What else do I need to know?

Other medicines, foods and drinks

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Loss of fertility

It is not known whether this treatment affects fertility in people. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future.

Contraception and pregnancy

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you're having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Breastfeeding

It is not known whether this drug comes through into the breast milk. Doctors usually advise that you don’t breastfeed during this treatment.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Last reviewed: 
06 Apr 2021
Next review due: 
06 Apr 2024
  • Electronic Medicines Compendium
    Accessed November 2020

  • Consensus report on the use of somatostatin analogs for the management of neuroendocrine tumors of the gastroenteropancreatic system 
    K Oberg and others 
    Annals of Oncology, 2004. Vol 15, Pages 966-973 

  • Scottish Neuroendocrine Tumour Group - Consensus Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Neuroendocrine Tumours​
    NHS Scotland, 2015

  • Somatostatin Analogues in the Treatment of Neuroendocrine Tumors: Past, Present and Future
    A Stueven and others 
    International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2019