SSAs may be used to help control the secretion of hormones if abnormal levels are being produced. SSAs may also be used to slow down growth rate in low to moderate grade ‘well-differentiated’ Neuroendocrine Cancer (NET).
Somatostatin is a substance that occurs naturally in the body. It helps to control the release of hormones into the blood stream – both from cells that should normally release hormones and Neuroendocrine Cancer cells.
- Somatostatin analogues (SSAs) are drugs that mimic the behaviour of somatostatin – so can help control hormone levels.
- SSAs include Octreotide (Sandostatin LAR – made by Novartis and Olutaton – made by TEVA) and Lanreotide (Somatuline Autogel – made by Ipsen).
All 3 are given by injection:
- Octreotide is usually given by a doctor or nurse, whilst Lanreotide can, if you want to, be self-administered.
- There is nurse support for all 3- and all 3 companies have put measures in place to assist with delivery and administration.
Your nurse specialist, specialist team member or pharmacist can give advice on transporting and storing the medicine – and the companies all have a helpline for any further enquiries or information.
Effects of Treatment
Neuroendocrine Cancer Treatments work in a variety of ways – and whilst we wish it wasn’t the case, side-effects can occur – not will occur – but can occur.
Many of these, if they happen, can be mild and manageable – others may cause an alteration or adjustment in treatment, such as reduced dose or interval – occasionally a treatment may have to stop – either temporarily ( a ‘treatment break’) or permanently, because the side-effect is more severe.
You may also be given treatments in a different order to what was first planned or how you may see them given in others – remember – your treatment plan will be personalised to you.
But it is only possible to deal with changes and side-effects, if you are able to talk them through with your specialist nurse or team.
If you notice a change, or don’t feel well, during or after a treatment – it may be tempting to ignore it or not mention it or wait a few weeks to see if things improve. You may be worried that if you do highlight any changes, your treatment may be stopped. However, the sooner your team knows what is happening, the sooner they can help you to deal with any changes – which will not always mean stopping treatment.
Changes or new symptoms may not always be caused by your treatment – Neuroendocrine Cancer itself can cause alterations in health – and other unrelated health issues can also occur. So, it can be helpful to know what to expect from treatment, what to look out for – and, importantly, when and who to contact if changes occur.