Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors constitute a heterogeneous group of neoplasms that are often associated with typical symptoms due to excessive and uncontrolled release of diverse hormones. Because these tumors are usually slow growing, surgery is the cornerstone of treatment. However, these rare tumors can present with rapid progression that requires aggressive systemic therapy or diffuse metastatic disease net amenable to surgical palliation. For most patients, medical approaches are necessary at some point in the course of their disease, especially since most tumors are at an advanced stage at the time of diagnosis. Most gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors express high levels of somatostatin receptors, which are bound by somatostatin or its synthetic analogues. These agents, alone or combined with other therapies, such as interferon or radioisotopes, are therefore used frequently to control hormone-related symptoms and, for some patients, the growth of the disease itself. This article reviews the evidence for the use of somatostatin analogues in the treatment of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors based on a MEDLINE search of literature published from January 1970 to July 2003.
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