Main drugs for pancreatic cancer
The main chemotherapy drug combinations for pancreatic cancer are listed here with the brand name of each drug in brackets.
- FOLFIRINOX – a combination of oxaliplatin (Eloxatin®), leucovirin, irinotecan and Fluorouracil (5-FU)
- Gemcitabine (Gemzar®)
- GemCap - gemcitabine (Gemzar®) and capecitabine (Xeloda®)
- FOLFOX - oxaliplatin (Eloxatin®) with fluorouracil (5-FU) and folinic acid
- Nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane®) with gemcitabine.
The chemotherapy drugs you have will depend on a number of things, including:
- how well you are
- your medical history
- your blood test results.
The first chemotherapy drugs you have are called first-line chemotherapy. This includes the following options.
When one chemotherapy treatment stops working or if it hasn’t worked, different chemotherapy drugs may be used to try to control the cancer for longer. This is called second-line chemotherapy. There are different options which may be tried.
- For people who are less fit and more at risk of side effects, capecitabine may be used after gemcitabine.
- People who have had FOLFIRINOX as first-line treatment, and who are fit enough for more chemotherapy, may be able to have gemcitabine (with or without capecitabine).
- People who have previously had gemcitabine with nab-paclitaxel may be able to have a combination of oxaliplatin and 5-FU (FOLFOX).
There are some clinical trials for second-line chemotherapy. Speak to your doctor or nurse about what chemotherapy treatments or clinical trials are available that might be suitable for you.
More chemotherapy information
- Chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.
- Chemotherapy before and after surgery.
- Chemotherapy for inoperable surgery.
- Advantages and disadvantages of chemotherapy.
- How is chemotherapy given?
- How does chemotherapy affect the blood?
- Other side effects of chemotherapy.
- What happens afterwards?
Published May 2017
Review date May 2019