Main drugs for pancreatic cancer
There are different chemotherapy drugs that can be used to treat pancreatic cancer. You may have one chemotherapy drug on its own, or two or three drugs together.
The chemotherapy you have will depend on whether the cancer has spread, how well you are and the results of your blood tests.
These are the chemotherapy drugs used for pancreatic cancer, and how they are used together. The brand name of each drug is in brackets.
- FOLFIRINOX – a treatment made up of oxaliplatin (Eloxatin®), folinic acid (leucovorin), irinotecan and fluorouracil (5-FU)
- Gemcitabine (Gemzar®)
- GemCap – gemcitabine and capecitabine (Xeloda®)
- FOLFOX – a treatment made up of folinic acid, 5-FU and oxaliplatin
- Nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane®) with gemcitabine
Speak to your oncologist (cancer doctor) or nurse about which chemotherapy treatment is best for you.
The first chemotherapy treatment you have is called first-line chemotherapy. If this doesn’t work or has stopped working, different drugs may be used to try to control the cancer for longer. This is called second-line chemotherapy.
There are different second-line options which may be used:
- If you have had FOLFIRINOX, you may be able to have gemcitabine (with or without capecitabine).
- If you have had gemcitabine (with or without nab-paclitaxel), and are well enough to have further treatment, you may be able to have chemotherapy that includes oxaliplatin. This may be FOLFIRINOX or FOLFOX chemotherapy.
- If you have had gemcitabine and are not well enough to cope with more side effects, you may be able to have capecitabine.
You can speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line about the different chemotherapy treatment options.
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Updated August 2019
Review date August 2021