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Gemcitabine Pancreatic Cancer

gemcitabine pancreatic cancer


Unresectable pancreatic cancer has a dismal prognosis with a median survival of 3-5 months in untreated disease. Since the introduction of gemcitabine, pancreatic cancer may no longer be regarded a chemotherapy-resistant tumor. Treatment with single-agent gemcitabine achieved clinical benefit and symptoms improvement in 20-30% of patients. While 1-year survival was observed in 2% of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-treated patients, it was raised to 18% by single-agent gemcitabine. Good treatment tolerability and low incidence of side effects are clear advantages of single-agent gemcitabine. Improvement of efficacy is, however, expected from combination treatment. Gemcitabine and cisplatin given as first-line treatment in three studies achieved a median survival of 7.4-8.3 months.

What is it?

Gemcitabine is commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer. It is a colourless fluid, which is usually given by intravenous infusion(through a drip) with each infusion usually lasting around 30 minutes. You will often be given anti-sickness drugs (anti-emetics) at the same time.

How is it given?

Intravenous infusions are given through a thin, short tube (cannula) put into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment. Alternatively, you may have a central line, a portacath or a PICC line inserted just before your treatment starts. These are tubes that give the drugs directly into a large vein in your chest and will stay in place as long as you need them.

What are the side effects?

Usually the side effects of Gemcitabine are relatively mild.

  • A drop in blood cells
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms (aching muscles, headache, chills)
  • A raised temperature 6-12 hours after infusion (a reaction to the drug rather than an infection)
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Swelling of feet/legs due to fluid retention
  • Skin rash
  • Hair thinning (it’s rare for it to completely fall out)

Gemcitabine plus Abraxane for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

Every person is different; every situation is different; every cancer is different. So, the decision about which treatment is right for an individual patient with pancreatic cancer (ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas) by their health care team is highly complex. Here we present the work of published research that examines factors related to two of the most common chemotherapy regimens in use for advanced stage pancreatic cancer.

Treating Pancreatic Cancer, Based on Extent of the Cancer

Treating exocrine pancreatic cancer, the most common type of pancreatic cancer, is different from treating pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), which is discussed elsewhere. Most of the time, pancreatic cancer is treated based on its stage – how far it has spread in the body. But other factors, such as your overall health, can also affect treatment options. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about the treatment plan he or she recommends.

It can be hard to stage pancreatic cancer accurately using imaging tests. Doctors do their best to figure out before treatment if there is a good chance the cancer is resectable – that is, if it can be removed completely. But sometimes cancers turn out to have spread farther than was first thought.

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