Role of interferon-alpha in patients with neuroendocrine tumors: a retrospective study

Anticancer Res. 2014 Nov;34(11):6601-7.


Background/aim: Interferon alpha (IFNα) is used sparingly in the management of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) due to toxicity and perceived limited efficacy. Other medical therapeutic options include somatostatin analogues and molecular-targeted agents, as well as chemotherapy and radionuclide targeted-therapy. The aim of the present study was to perform a retrospective analysis of patients treated with IFNα.

Patients and methods: Patients were identified from the NET database. Radiological, biochemical and symptomatic response were assessed. Progression-free survival (PFS), adverse events and toxicities were recorded.

Results: Thirty-five patients were treated with IFNα, with a mean age of 60.1 (range=38-85) years; eight patients (23%) withdrew before 3 months, one (3%) had complete response; there was one partial response; 25 patients (71%) had at least three months of stable disease. The median PFS was 25 months.

Conclusion: IFNα demonstrated efficacy and was reasonably tolerated. IFNα may still have a role in small-volume diffuse disease, in syndromic patients where there is resistance to somatostatin analogue, or as a bridge to other therapies.

Keywords: Interferon-alpha; neuroendocrine tumours.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Bone Neoplasms / mortality
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / drug therapy*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / mortality
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / pathology
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / secondary
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon-alpha