Digestive neuroendocrine tumours: diagnosis and treatment in Italy. A survey by the Oncology Study Section of the Italian Society of Gastroenterology (SIGE)

Dig Liver Dis. 2001 Apr;33(3):217-21. doi: 10.1016/s1590-8658(01)80710-6.


Background: New insights in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive neuroendocrine tumours have prompted a renewed interest in these rare and complex diseases.

Aim: To establish how many new cases of digestive neuroendocrine tumours were diagnosed, and how they were treated, at gastroenterological centres across Italy during a two-year period (1997-1998).

Methods: The 12 centres taking part filled in a data collection form reporting type of tumour, methods of diagnosis and therapeutic strategies adopted in each case. Data were collected and analysed by the authors of the present report.

Results: Data refer to 98 patients, 22 with functioning and 76 with non-functioning digestive neuroendocrine tumours [50 carcinoids, 48 pancreatic endocrine tumour syndromes]. Primary tumours were localised in 96% (38% with metastases) of non-functioning and 81% (50% with metastases) of functioning tumours. These were surgically removed in >80% of patients in both groups. Somatostatin analogue treatment, with or without interferon, was administered in 35% of patients, while chemotherapy was used in 9% and 23% of functioning and non-functioning tumours, respectively. The imaging study always included a computed tomography scan (20% helical computed tomography). Magnetic resonance and somatostatin receptor scintigraphy were also performed, the former in 41% and 21% of the two (functioning and non-functioning tumour) groups, the latter in 45% and 30%.

Conclusions: The number of functioning digestive neuroendocrine tumours reported was lower than expected. Surgery plays a major role in the treatment of these tumours in all centres. Overall, in only a small number of patients was a multidisciplinary approach applied.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Digestive System Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Digestive System Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Digestive System Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastroenterology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interferons / administration & dosage
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / diagnosis*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / epidemiology
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Societies, Medical
  • Somatostatin / administration & dosage
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Somatostatin
  • Interferons