Somatostatin analogues are drugs that stop your body from making too many hormones.
Some neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) make large amounts of hormones that cause a group of symptoms called carcinoid syndrome. Somatostatin analogues are a possible treatment for people with carcinoid syndrome.
How somatostatin analogues work
Somatostatin is a hormone made naturally in the body. It is made by:
- a gland in the brain called hypothalamus
- the stomach
- the pancreas
- the bowel
Somatostatin does a number of things. It slows down or stops the production of a number of hormones such as insulin and gut hormones. It also controls the emptying of the stomach and bowel.
A somatostatin analogue is a man made (synthetic) version of somatostatin. It slows down the production of hormones, especially the growth hormone and serotonin. This helps to control the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome such as diarrhoea and flushing of the skin. It may also shrink the NET.
How you have somatostatin analogues
You usually have somatostatin analogues as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously) or into the muscle (intramuscularly). You usually have treatment every 4 weeks.
Your nurse usually gives you the injections. If you have lanreotide, they may show you how to give the injections yourself.
Somatostatin analogues do not usually cause many side effects. The most common side effects are:
- headaches and dizziness
- loss of appetite
- feeling or being sick
- feeling bloated
- stomach pain
- tiredness (fatigue)
- pain at the injection site
- changes to your blood sugar levels
- changes to the way your bowel works
Treatment for neuroendocrine tumours can be difficult to cope with for some people. Your nurse will give you phone numbers to call if you have any problems at home.