What's the latest on Gemcitabine (Gemzar). - 1291285

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What's the latest on Gemcitabine (Gemzar). - 1291285

Strange to be back posting on the New Questions site.....

So, it is likely my wife will be starting on Gemzar. I would love to know the latest from those who have been treated with it (particularly for NSCLC) as to the types of side effects they have encountered. I am just starting to read up on it, and initially looks like its better in its side effects than many of the other agents stoping cell division. My wife will likely be considering her options, and also wondering if anyone out there has any thoughts on afatinib versus Gemzar. Afatinib is more directed towards the EGFR family of mutations like my wife has (she has HER2), and seems effective, but seems relatively short lasting (6-9 months) with some pretty hefty side effects. Not very familiar with Gemzar but seems to have a much better side-effect profile, but still generally effective for those tumors which did well with other DNA based chemotherapies (like Carbo, which worked well for my wife). In particular, a sense of the range of time people have been on Gemzar, and the degree to which it caused problems with WBC or RBC would be appreciated. Anything else we should be thinking about when we go to the oncologist to discuss our options here?


Hi scohn,

Hi scohn,

Dr. West had this to say about the side effect profile of Gemzar:

"It’s typically a 30 minute infusion and, as a single agent, is often very well tolerated, mostly with fatigue and some modestly decreased blood counts, perhaps some mild hair thinning (patients comment on it more often than you’d notice anything from looking across a room), and not usually much nausea or vomiting, especially on its own.

“Results may vary”, and that’s especially true if it or any other anti-cancer therapy is given to someone who has been on many therapies previously, but it’s among the more favorable in the balance of efficacy vs. side effects for plenty of patients." - http://cancergrace.org/lung/topic/gemzar/#post-8322

Forum moderator

<p>I began visiting GRACE in July, 2008 when my wife Liz was diagnosed with lung cancer, and became a forum moderator in January, 2010. My beloved wife of 30 years passed away Nov. 4, 2011 after battling stage IV lung cancer for 3 years and 4 months</p>

We've posted a few times in

We've posted a few times in the past two years, and have appreciated the support, advice and wonderful resources on GRACE.
My father was diagnosed with Stage IV NSCLC, EGFR exon 19 deletion, in 9/15.
He received Tarceva for 9 months, then Tagrisso for the past 18 months, and during that time, he also failed 2 cycles of Carbo/Alimta.
Most recent scans show disease progression in the liver and spine.
Options being discussed include gemcitabine.
Adding to the previous post, we would like to know if there have been any recent studies in the literature looking at the the use of gemcitabine in previously treated NSCLC?
What is the forum's experience with the combination of Tagrisso and Gemcitabine?
What significant side effects can be expected?
We would greatly appreciate any insight and advice that can be offered.
Thank you in advance for your time. We look forward to your response.

Hi hopeandfaith,

Hi hopeandfaith,

I'm sorry to hear your father is progressing. The standard treatment for those who have progressed on tagrisso remains chemotherapy. Two cycles of chemo doublet is not enough to say that he failed the treatment. It normally takes 3 cycles with 4 showing the best outcomes. Many oncs will give up to 6 platinum doublet cycles. If the platinum drug is too difficult for a person to take a single non platinum agent can be given. Alimta is the most used chemo agent for non-squamous nsclc. It has shown to have excellent efficacy and is well tolerated. Gemzar is also used as a single agent or part of a squamous doublet but for non-squamous usually after progression or weakened tolerability on alimta.

Though this isn't something many lung cancer specialists do some oncologists continue tagrisso after progression outside the brain. They add chemo to tagrisso in hopes it will continue to keep cancer out of the brain. For some combining drugs doesn't just add the 2 side effects profile together but amplifies them.
There is often short lived efficacy on a tki after a break from tki. Insurance will more than likely balk at paying for both at once.
There is some data suggesting exon 19 is more sensitive to gilotrif than other egfr mutaions. Though it's probably right to assume your father's mutation has changed since it's first biopsy and since T790M was found. Usually biopsies are only done for trials at this junction.
There are trials that may be appropriate for your father.
A 2nd opinion from a large cancer center or teaching hospital with lung specialists at transition times such as this is always a good idea. 2 heads are better than one.

This is an uncut video of the break out session of our patient forum on acquired resistance. At about the 35 min mark a discussion about acquired resistance begins. It's long but has a tremendous amount of good info, https://youtu.be/iZTr4UnGSoA

I hope something in here helps,