Neuroendocrine tumors (NETS) grow in the glands that create hormones. They can start in the lungs, stomach, pancreas, or gut. Often NETS grow silently, without symptoms. Some produce hormones that damage your digestive system and blood sugar. Lutathera is a neuroendocrine tumor treatment that slows down or stops tumor growth.
UVA Health is one of the first hospitals in the region to offer this radioactive drug.
How Does Lutathera Work?
Lutathera specifically targets neuroendocrine tumors. It is the first Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) approved to treat these tumors. The drug contains medicine that:
- Focuses the drug on the tumors, keeping the drug from hurting other parts of your body
- Uses radiation to damage and kill cancer cells
It can also help manage the symptoms they cause.
Will it Work for You?
Before you begin Lutathera treatment, you’ll meet with a nuclear medicine doctor. We’ll take several scans taken of your body. These scans, along with your medical history and blood tests, will help your doctors decide if Lutathera works for you.
A New Option for Neuroendocrine Tumors
Lutathera slows down or stops neuroendocrine tumor growth. Lale Kostakoglu Shields, MD, MPH, explains the Lutathera treatment process. View Lutathera transcript.
Planning for Your Neuroendocrine Tumor Treatment
The Treatment Timeline
This entire treatment lasts 8 months.
- Every 8 weeks, 4 times: You’ll get the drug through infusion or IV. Treatment takes all day.
- Every 2 weeks: We’ll take your blood to make sure you don’t have any negative side effects.
Day of Treatment Schedule
The day follows a routine schedule:
- We’ll take your blood.
- We’ll insert an IV into both of your arms.
- We’ll take you to a private infusion room.
- To start, you’ll get anti-nausea medications.
- You’ll also have amino acids for about 4 hours. These will continue through one IV to protect your kidneys during treatment.
- About an hour later, you’ll start getting Lutathera through the other IV line.
- After these infusions, we’ll do an imaging scan.
- You’ll then have an injection of a long-acting hormone, Sandostatin. This treats GI issues caused by these tumors.
- Before you leave, we’ll give you safety instructions.
You can bring:
- Entertainment – a phone, laptop, books, games, etc.
- Food – things to drink and eat; we recommend light snacks in case you get sick to your stomach
During infusion: You can’t have family members or friends with you due to the danger of radiation.
For about 3 days after infusion: Stay at least 3 feet away from others. You can have close interactions that last less than 5 minutes.
Specific precautions for your Lutathera treatment may differ. Your doctor will discuss your specific safety precautions with you following your treatment.
Most Common Side Effects
You could have, after treatment:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Decreased blood cell counts
- Increased liver enzymes
- Decreased blood potassium levels
Where You Get Nuclear Infusion
Lutathera infusion takes place in the nuclear medicine clinic. Get directions and facility amenities to prepare for your visit.