Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
November 10 is World NET Cancer Day, and Ochsner Medical Center- Kenner patient Catherine Pittman shares her story of the treatment she receives at the hospital’s nationally known Neuroendocrine Program.
Breast cancer survivor Catherine Pittman was living in Mobile, Ala. when she was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumors in 2013. Also known as a NET, a neuroendocrine tumor is a rare, hormone-producing tumor that affects neuroendocrine cells, which are present throughout the nervous and endocrine systems. NETs can originate anywhere in the body but are usually found in the lungs or GI tract.
After diligent research on treatment options, Catherine discovered there were few places in the country that were equipped to treat her condition. She chose OMC-Kenner based on its reputation in the NET community and its proximity to family.
Catherine initially treated her NET surgically and with chemotherapy but became interested in the recently FDA-approved Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy when it was introduced to her as an alternative. She completed the six-month therapy in January 2019; she was the first Ochsner patient to do so after it was approved by the FDA.
Catherine returns to OMC- Kenner once a month for a shot of Lanreotide, an injection that helps slow NET growth. She also has routine scans and sees Robert Ramirez, DO, FACPevery six months to monitor her condition.
The oldest of eight children, Catherine is a natural caretaker and spends her time managing her brother’s property, gardening and taking care of her rescue dog, Sport, in Albany, La.
“I am a very active person and my diagnosis has not slowed me down. On my brother’s property, I cut down trees, rake leaves and do whatever needs to be done,” Pittman says. “I think there is no place like Ochsner. If not for them, I would have only lived another two or three weeks after my diagnosis.”
NET Treatment at OMC- Kenner
OMC-Kenner’s Neuroendocrine Program specializes in the diagnosis and management of all forms of neuroendocrine tumors. It has been a national leader for more than a decade in the treatment and management of this condition. The Neuroendocrine Program at OMC-Kenner is witnessing more people living beyond 10 years. This can be attributed to advancements in clinical trials, surgical and non-surgical procedures and medical management.
One such advancement is the treatment option of Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy, a targeted radiation that halts tumor growth. For years, OMC-Kenner has been administering this therapy via an Internal Review Board-approved clinical research trial, and it was approved by the FDA in July 2018 to dispense commercially. OMC-Kenner’s expanded infusion space has allowed the therapy to be administered to more patients who need it, while enhancing and increasing patient survival an additional three or four years while newer innovative therapies are developed.
The Neuroendocrine Program at OMC-Kenner, NOLANETS, is an affiliation between Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and Ochsner Medical Center and specializes in the diagnosis and management of all forms of neuroendocrine tumors.
Want to learn more? Click here for information about OMC-Kenner's NET program.