Gemcitabine (Gemzar) is a chemotherapy treatment that is toxic to cancer cells. It works by preventing a part of the cancer cell replicating itself. The side-effects of gemcitabine are fairly mild, but may include rashes and nausea.
The Institute recommends that gemcitabine may be offered as first-line chemotherapy to patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, if they have a Karnofsky performance score of 50 or more. Karnofsky is a measure given by a health professional to a patient's ability to perform certain ordinary tasks.
Patients who are suitable for curative surgery, or who have a Karnofsky performance score of less than 50, should not be offered gemcitabine.
|Gemcitabine prevents cancer cells replicating themselves.|
|National Institute for Clinical Excellence|
In addition, they mention that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of gemcitabine as a second-line treatment for patients with pancreatic cancer.
Copies of the full guidance and supporting documentation are available on the NICE website.
Andrew Dillon, NICE Chief Executive and Executive Lead for the appraisal, said, "Pancreatic cancer is fairly common - affecting over 5,000 people a year. It can severely affect a patient's quality of life, and outcomes are generally poor.
"Gemcitabine is a clinically and cost-effective way to offer patients additional months of life, and I am very pleased to be issuing this guidance," he concluded.