Targeted Therapy for Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor

Targeted drugs work differently from standard chemo drugs. These drugs target specific parts of cancer cells. They are sometimes helpful when chemotherapy is not and often have different side effects than chemotherapy.

The targeted drugs used to treat pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) work by blocking angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels that nourish cancers) or important proteins (called tyrosine kinases) in cancer cells that help them grow and survive.

Sunitinib (Sutent)

Sunitinib blocks several tyrosine kinases and attacks new blood vessel growth. It has been shown to help slow tumor growth. This drug is taken as a pill once a day.

The most common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, changes in skin or hair color, mouth sores, weakness, and low blood cell counts. Other possible effects include tiredness, high blood pressure, heart problems, bleeding, hand-foot syndrome (redness, pain, and skin peeling of the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet), and low thyroid hormone levels.

Everolimus (Afinitor)

Everolimus blocks a protein known as mTOR, which normally helps cells grow and divide. It has been shown to help treat advanced pancreatic NETs. Everolimus is a pill taken once a day.

Common side effects of this drug include mouth sores, infections, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, skin rash, feeling tired or weak, fluid buildup (usually in the legs), and increases in blood sugar and cholesterol levels. A less common but serious side effect is damage to the lungs, which can cause shortness of breath or other problems.

More information about targeted therapy

To learn more about how targeted drugs are used to treat cancer, see Targeted Cancer Therapy.

To learn about some of the side effects listed here and how to manage them, see Managing Cancer-related Side Effects.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Last Medical Review: October 30, 2018 Last Revised: October 30, 2018

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