Receptors for the regulatory peptide somatostatin are expressed in high density in the majority of neuroendocrine gastroenteropancreatic tumors, i.e. in carcinoids and islet cell carcinomas. These findings gave rise to two important clinical applications for the diagnosis and the therapy of these diseases: (1) most of the receptor-containing tumors and their metastases can be localized in the patient with a newly developed method of in vivo somatostatin receptor scintigraphy, and (2) these receptors represent the molecular basis for somatostatin analog therapy. Synthetic somatostatin analogs like octreotide can be used for the symptomatic therapy, i.e. inhibition of excessive hormone release of these tumors by binding to tumoral somatostatin receptors.

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