NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Pancreatic Cancer - page 30

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NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
Pancreatic Cancer, Version 1.2014
Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer.
Many people refer to this treatment as “chemo.”
Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cells throughout the
body, including cancer cells and normal cells. The
chemotherapy drugs used for pancreatic cancer are
listed in
Chart 1
below.
When only one drug is used, it is called a single
agent. However, chemotherapy drugs differ in
the way they work, so often more than one drug
is used. A combination regimen is the use of two
or more chemotherapy drugs. Leucovorin (also
called folinic acid) is sometimes given along with
5-FU (5-
f
l
u
orouracil) to improve how well the
chemotherapy works. One example of a combination
regimen used for pancreatic cancer is FOLFIRINOX
(
fol
inic acid, 5-
f
luorouracil,
irin
otecan,
ox
aliplatin).
Often, combination regimens are referred to by the
main chemotherapy drug used. For gemcitabine-
based combination therapy, the main drug used is
gemcitabine. For fluoropyrimidine-based therapy, the
main drug used is 5-FU.
Chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer can be given
as a pill taken by mouth or as a liquid that is slowly
injected into a vein. Most of the chemotherapy drugs
listed in
Chart 1
are given as injections. How long it
takes to give the chemotherapy injection depends on
which chemotherapy you receive.
Chemotherapy is given in cycles of treatment days
followed by days of rest. These cycles vary in length
depending on which drugs are used. Often, the cycles
are 14, 21, or 28 days long. These cycles give the
body a chance to recover before the next treatment.
Thus, chemotherapy treatment includes some days
without treatment.
Targeted therapy
Targeted therapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer.
Targeted therapy drugs target a specific or unique
feature of cancer cells not generally present in
cancer cells. Because these drugs specifically target
cancer cells, they may be less likely to harm normal
cells throughout your body. Erlotinib is a targeted
therapy used for pancreatic cancer. It treats cancer
by blocking signals sent from the edge of a cancer
cell that tell the cell to grow. Erlotinib is used with
chemotherapy to treat pancreatic cancer. It is a pill
that is taken by mouth and swallowed. It then travels
in the bloodstream to treat cancer throughout the
body.
3
Overview of cancer treatments Chemotherapy | Targeted therapy
Chart 1. Chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer
Generic name
Brand name (sold as)
Capecitabine
Xeloda
Cisplatin
Platinol
Docetaxel
Taxotere
5-FU
Gemcitabine
Gemzar
Irinotecan
Camptosar
Oxaliplatin
Eloxatin
Nab-paclitaxel
Abraxane
1...,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29 31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,...92
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