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Treatment of neuroendocrine tumours of the small intestine

The following are treatment options for neuroendocrine tumours of the small intestine. The type of treatments offered depends on:

  • the location and stage of the cancer
  • whether the cancer can be completely removed by surgery (resectable) or not (unresectable)

The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.


Surgery is the primary treatment for neuroendocrine tumours of the small intestine and offers the best outcome. The types of surgery that may be done are:

Supportive therapy

Doctors may offer supportive therapies to people with symptoms of carcinoid syndrome, such as diarrhea, flushing of the skin and abdominal cramping. This therapy often includes a drug called octreotide (Sandostatin).

Biological therapy

Doctors may sometimes offer interferon alfa (Intron A, Wellferon), a biological therapy, for metastatic neuroendocrine tumours. It may be used in combination with octreotide to help relieve symptoms of carcinoid syndrome and slow the growth of the tumour.


Neuroendocrine tumours are not very sensitive to chemotherapy, so it is not usually part of first-line therapy. Chemotherapy is mainly used to treat some neuroendocrine tumours of the small intestine that are at an advanced stage or metastatic. Neuroendocrine carcinomas are usually treated with chemotherapy regimens that often include the drugs streptozocin (Zanosar) and 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil, 5-FU).

Chemoembolization and hepatic artery infusion are regional chemotherapies that may be used for neuroendocrine tumours that have spread to the liver.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy may be offered for some metastatic neuroendocrine tumours of the small intestine. It may include targeted radiation therapy or external beam radiation therapy.

Clinical trials

People with small intestine cancer may be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. For more information, go to clinical trials.


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