Research
April 6, 2022 • 2 Min

Testing a Thyroid Cancer Drug to Treat Advanced Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors

Black and white photo of vials of water with black tops

Penny Higgins; Flickr

Could a drug commonly used in thyroid cancer help with other cancers, including hard-to-treat neuroendocrine tumors (NETs)?

Neuroendocrine tumors are rare tumors that can develop in many different organs of the body. They originate from so called neuroendocrine cells that release hormones into the bloodstream; pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) affect the islet cells responsible for the production and release of hormones that regulate glucose levels.

NETs also happen to be among the cancers with the most blood vessel growth. This randomized phase III clinical trial will test a drug that inhibits blood vessel growth and thereby possibly slow tumor growth.

How the Drug and the Trial Work

Cabozantinib, an approved drug for advanced thyroid cancer, blocks the growth of new blood vessels in the tumor.  It may also block the pathways that allow a tumor to become resistant to drugs that target blood vessel growth.  Researchers hope that by inhibiting these pathways, the drug will slow tumor growth.

The aim of the study is to determine whether cabozantinib can significantly improve progression-free survival (PFS) compared to placebo in patients with advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors whose disease has progressed after prior therapy.

Participating in this Trial

The trial is open to patients with advanced carcinoid tumors of the lung and advanced neuroendocrine tumors of the digestive system, including the pancreas. Participants must have experienced disease progression or intolerance to at least one prior therapy.

Trial participants are randomized to one of two arms. In the first arm, patients receive cabozantinib orally once a day for 28 days. In the second arm, patients receive a placebo pill orally for 28 days. The treatment cycles repeat until there is progression of the cancer or the drug proves toxic.

Researchers are looking at effectiveness of the treatment at preventing disease progression compared with the placebo, and overall survival, safety, and tolerability. The study is being conducted at hundreds of sites throughout the U.S.

We encourage you to consult your physicians for clinical trials that may be right for you. The website ClinicalTrials.gov provides more details about this trial as well as many others. You can visit the EmergingMed Trial Finder for a list of all active pancreatic cancer clinical trials.