Somatostatin is a naturally occurring cyclic tetradecapeptide that inhibits release of growth hormone and all gastrointestinal hormones. The beneficial effect of somatostatin in the treatment of certain hypersecretory disorders of hormone excess is well recognized; however its clinical usefulness has been limited in the past by its extremely short plasma half-life. The development of long-acting somatostatin analogues has provided clinically useful agents for treatment of hormone-producing tumors. In addition to well-known inhibiting effects on hormone release and actions, recent studies using experimental tumor models have demonstrated an antiproliferative effect of somatostatin and its analogues on growth of a variety of neoplasms. The exact role of somatostatin analogues in cancer therapy has yet to be established; however studies suggest that these agents could provide a useful and relatively nontoxic adjuvant therapy in the treatment of certain tumors. In this review, the oncologic application of somatostatin and possible mechanism of action are examined and current clinical and experimental studies are summarized.
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