BACKGROUND: In recent years, several treatment modalities have proved to be effective in the treatment of neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). However, there is currently no consensus on the sequence in which these options are best used.
METHODS: In this observational study, we analysed the treatment modalities and sequences of all patients included in the Swiss NeuroEndocrine Tumour registry (SwissNET). SwissNET is a national registry, which has prospectively included patients with a NET from all regions of Switzerland since 2008.
RESULTS: The registry includes 1366 patients; 1063 had documented therapies after the main diagnosis and were included in the analysis. The median follow-up time was 1.86 years. The most common primary site was the small intestine (291 patients, 27%) followed by pancreas (254 patients, 24%), lung (172 patients, 16%) and appendix (163 patients, 15%). A total of 167 different therapy sequences were observed. In 708 (67%) patients, surgery was the only treatment. The sequence of surgery followed by chemotherapy was most frequently documented in poorly (G3) differentiated (24 patients, 60%) and pancreatic (15 patients, 34%) NETs. Tumours treated with surgery followed by biotherapy or followed by peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) were predominantly well-differentiated G1 NETs of the small intestine. In patients who were treated with either PRRT or systemic therapy (chemotherapy or molecular therapy) or both, PRRT was used more frequently than systemic therapy in patients with a small intestinal NET (35 patients, 62% vs 30, 54%), whereas the opposite held true in pancreatic (44 patients, 59% vs 56, 70%) and lung NETs (6 patients, 14% vs 40, 97%). If both chemotherapy and molecular therapy were used, chemotherapy was applied prior to molecular therapy in 13 of 19 (68%) patients with a pancreatic NET.
CONCLUSION: Surgery represents the treatment of choice in most patients with a NET irrespective of tumour stage. In patients receiving additional treatment, an impressive variety of treatment sequences were documented. In small intestinal NETs, patients received PRRT more often than chemotherapy, whereas the opposite holds true for patients with pancreatic and lung NETs.