Lutathera Radiation Therapy for Neuroendocrine Tumors

Advanced treatment for inoperable pancreas and small bowel neuroendocrine tumors

Lutathera® is a nuclear medicine radiation treatment that provides targeted therapy for cancers affecting the neuroendocrine cells of the pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. The FDA approved Lutathera in January 2018. The University of Kansas Cancer Center is one of the first in the region to offer this advanced treatment.

Lutathera combines Lutetium 177, a radioactive element, with Dotatate, a type of octreotide, a hormone that inhibits cell growth. This combination kills neuroendocrine cancer cells.

Symptoms and treatment


Neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas and small bowel cause exocrine secretions of growth and other hormones, and can cause severe diarrhea. This life-threatening cancer can metastasize to organs such as the liver.

Tumor conference

Before treatment, you will have a diagnostic PET scan to locate the tumor. We will present our findings at a multidisciplinary tumor conference, and discuss your condition to determine the course of treatment that best suits your needs.

Lutathera procedure

You'll have an intravenous liquid infusion of Lutathera and an amino acid that protects your kidneys from radiation. The amino acid infusion begins first, followed by Lutathera shortly after. The Lutathera infusion takes about 45 minutes, and the amino acid infusion takes 4-6 hours.

Drink plenty of water or juice before, during and after your treatment. Because Lutathera is slightly radioactive, the more you urinate the faster you rid your body of radiation. We will let you know when you can leave the cancer center, and will give you post-treatment instructions.

Course of treatment


You will have four Lutathera infusion sessions, one every two months. After each session, you'll receive an injection of long-acting octreotide. After your last infusion, you'll receive octreotide injections for up to 18 months, depending on whether the cancer grows or metastasizes.

Side effects

We can provide medications to prevent or relieve the most common side effects, which are usually related to the amino acid infusion. These include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Nausea and vomiting

Throughout your treatment regimen, we provide care to manage any side effects from Lutathera, which can be serious. These may include:

  • Decreased blood cell counts
  • Increased liver enzymes
  • Decreased blood potassium levels
  • Increased glucose in your bloodstream

Who may benefit from Lutathera

Lutathera is for patients in general good health, with no liver or kidney dysfunction, who have pancreatic or small-bowel tumors that are recurring, inoperable or have not responded to treatment such as:

  • Microwave ablation
  • Chemoembolization
  • Oral chemotherapy
  • Long-acting octreotide injections alone

If you are a candidate for surgery, we may offer Lutathera as a first treatment, depending on your condition.

Schedule an evaluation

You or your doctor can schedule an evaluation for Lutathera treatment at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Physician referral: 913-588-5862 | 877-588-5862?
Patients: Call our nurse navigator at 913-588-3671