Chemotherapy drugs for pancreatic cancer
The chemotherapy drugs we mention in this page are used to treat exocrine pancreatic cancer—the most common form of which is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Approximately 95% of all pancreatic cancers are PDAC.
The choice of chemotherapy you will be offered will depend on your situation. The chemotherapy drugs sometimes used to treat pancreatic cancer are:
Used alone or sometimes in combination with another chemotherapy drug such as fluorouracil, capecitabine or nab-paclitaxel (see below) for advanced pancreatic cancer and after surgery to remove a tumour (adjuvant therapy).
Used alone and generally delivered as a prolonged infusion, often over days as an adjuvant therapy (after surgery) or as a sensitiser for chemo-radiotherapy or as a second line therapy for advanced pancreatic cancer.
An oral form (taken by tablet) of 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU). It is sometimes given along with gemcitabine (known as GemCap) or on its own as a radiotherapy sensitiser.
This is a combination of 4 different agents (folinic acid [leucovorin], fluorouracil, irinotecan and oxaliplatin) and is used to treat advanced pancreatic cancer and occasionally before surgery to remove a tumour. It can cause more side effects than having individual chemotherapy drugs therefore is usually only given to very fit patients.
Nab-paclitaxel has EU/UK approval for use in combination with gemcitabine for advanced pancreatic cancer.
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Information Product No. PCA0031v1 | Published: 04/01/2013 | Last Updated: 10/11/2017 | Next Review Due: 04/01/2016