Treatment of neuroendocrine carcinomas with combined etoposide and cisplatin. Evidence of major therapeutic activity in the anaplastic variants of these neoplasms

Cancer. 1991 Jul 15;68(2):227-32. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19910715)68:2<227::aid-cncr2820680202>;2-i.


Forty-five patients with metastatic neuroendocrine tumors were treated with a regimen of etoposide 130 mg/m2/d for 3 days plus cisplatin 45 mg/m2/d on days 2 and 3. Both drugs were given by continuous intravenous infusion. Among 27 patients with well-differentiated carcinoid tumors or islet cell carcinomas, only two partial objective tumor regressions were observed (7%). Among 18 patients prospectively classified as having anaplastic neuroendocrine carcinomas, however, there were nine partial regressions and three complete regressions, an overall regression rate of 67%. For anaplastic disease, the median duration of regression was 8 months (range to 21 months). Tumor response was unrelated to primary site, endocrine hyperfunction, or prior therapy experience. The median survival of all patients with anaplastic tumors was 19 months; this seemed favorable when considering the small experiences with these rare tumors reported in the literature. Toxicity, which was severe for most patients, consisted primarily of vomiting, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia, alopecia, and neuropathy. The anaplastic neuroendocrine tumor is strongly responsive to therapy with combined etoposide and cisplatin. Patients with undifferentiated carcinomas, originating in typical neuroendocrine tumor sites (small and large bowel, pancreas, and stomach) or of unknown origin, who have consistent histologic findings by light microscopy should be evaluated for this possibility with appropriate immune staining or electron microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / blood
  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / drug therapy*
  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoid Tumor / blood
  • Carcinoid Tumor / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoid Tumor / pathology
  • Carcinoma / blood
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Etoposide / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Gastrins / blood
  • Glucagon / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Remission Induction
  • Survival Rate


  • Gastrins
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Etoposide
  • Glucagon
  • Cisplatin