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Research and clinical trials

Researchers are looking at improving the diagnosis and treatment of lung neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). There are a number of clinical trials for people to join in the UK. Find out how to take part in a clinical trial.

What clinical trials are

Clinical trials aim to find out if a new test or treatment is safe or works better than current ones.

Research into diagnosis

Doctors often use radioactive scans such as octreotide scans and PET scans to help diagnose lung NETs. They can also show whether the cancer has spread outside the lung (the stage).

You usually have an injection of a radioactive substance (a tracer) before the scan. This helps to show up the cancer. Researchers are looking at a different type of tracer to see if it can show up NET cells better. The new tracer is called 18F-FET-βAG-TOCA.

Research into treatment

Research into the treatment of lung NETs is looking at chemotherapy, targeted drugs (biological therapies) and somatostatin analogues.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the main treatment for some types of lung NETs called small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (LCNEC).

Research continues into improving the timing and doses of the drugs used. Researchers also hope to find new combinations of drugs that might give better results.

Targeted drugs

Cancer cells have changes in their genes (DNA) that make them different from normal cells. These changes mean that they behave differently. Targeted drugs work by ‘targeting’ those differences that a cancer cell has.

Everolimus is a targeted drug. It stops a protein called mTOR from working properly. mTOR controls other proteins that tell cancer cells to grow. Everolimus is already used for people with lung NETs. But researchers are now looking at it in combination with other cancer treatments.

Another targeted drug that doctors are looking at is pembrolizumab. It blocks a protein called PD-1 on the surface of certain immune cells called T-cells. Blocking PD-1 triggers the immune cells to find and kill cancer cells.

Somatostatin analogues

Somatostatin analogues are drugs that stop your body from making too many hormones. They can reduce the symptoms of lung NETs and may slow down cancer growth.

Examples of somatostatin analogues that doctors in the UK are looking at include:

  • pasireotide
  • lanreotide

They are looking at using somatostatin analogues alone or with everolimus.

Find a clinical trial

Our clinical trials database has information about UK clinical trials for NETs including summaries of trial results.

Cancer Research UK nurses

For support and information, you can call the Cancer Research UK information nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They can give advice about who can help you and what kind of support is available.
Last reviewed: 
14 May 2018
  • Challenges in the diagnosis and management of well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors of the lung (typical and atypical carcinoid): current status and future considerations
    E M Wolin 
    Oncologist, 2015. Vol 20, issue 10, pages 1123-1131

  • Efficacy and safety of pasireotide LAR or everolimus alone, or in combination in patients with advanced carcinoids (NET) of the lung/thymus: results from the randomized, phase 2 LUNA study
    P Ferolla and others
    Annals of oncology, 2016. Vol 27, supplement 6

  • Neuroendocrine tumors of the lung: current challenges in the diagnosis and management of well-differentiated disease
    A R Hendifar and others
    Journal of Thoracic Oncology, 2016. Vol 12, number 3, pages 425-436

  • Everolimus for the treatment of advances, non-functional neuroendocrine tumours of the lung or gastrointestinal tract (RADIANT-4): a randomised, placebo-controlled, phase 3 study
    J C Yao and others
    Lancet, 2016. Vol 387, pages 968-977

  • Cancer Research UK clinical trials database
    Accessed February 2018

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