Chemotherapy Drugs Used to Treat Pancreatic Cancer
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There is generally one drug which is commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer in the UK and that is Gemcitabine. Gemcitabine has NICE approval as a first-line treatment for people with advanced or metastatic disease (spread to other parts of the body) provided they:
- Have a Karnofsky1 performance score ≥ 50.
- they are not suitable for surgery
Another drug which was fairly common before the widespread use of gemcitabine is 5-Fluorouracil (also known as 5-FU). There was a large clinical trial in Europe called ESPAC-3 (v2) which compared 5-FU with gemcitabine in patients who had had surgery to remove the pancreatic cancer to see which one was better at preventing the cancer coming back. However, the trial found no significant difference in the survival of patients between the two groups.pancreatic cancer. It is also often used in patients following surgery for pancreatic cancer (adjuvant treatment) and can be used alongside radiotherapy as a sensitiser in chemo-radiotherapy treatment.
Sometimes 5FU will be used as a sensitiser for radiotherapy treatment or as a second-line therapy should a patient not respond to gemcitabine.
- A standard way of measuring the ability of cancer patients to perform ordinary tasks. The Karnofsky Performance scores range from 0 to 100. A higher score means the patient is better able to carry out daily activities. KPS may be used to determine a patient’s prognosis, to measure changes in a patient’s ability to function, or to decide if a patient could be included in a clinical trial ↩
AbraxaneFind out more
FOLFIRINOXFind out more
GemcitabineFind out more
Gemcitabine and CapecitabineFind out mote
5-FU (5-Fluorouracil)Find out more
Drug combinationsFind out more
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Information Product No. PCA0026 | Published: 04/01/2013 | Last Updated: 10/06/2013 | Next Review Due: 10/06/2016