Written by Karen Selby, RN | Medically Reviewed By Dr. Jeffrey Velotta | Edited By Walter Pacheco | Last Update: June 27, 2024

What is Vinorelbine?

Vinorelbine belongs to a family of chemotherapy drugs known as vinca alkaloids. They were first created from extracts of the periwinkle plant. Researchers discovered the antitumor effects of this drug in 1959.

Vinorelbine is classified as an antineoplastic agent. It binds to microtubular proteins in cells. Microtubules aid cell reproduction. Vinorelbine prevents cancer cells from reproducing and leads to their self-destruction.

Vinorelbine Information

  • Other Names: Navelbine, vinorelbine tartrate
  • Manufactured by: Pierre Fabre
  • FDA-approved: Yes (to treat non-small cell lung cancer)
  • Used or Tested in: Breast cancer, cervical cancer, esophageal cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, mesothelioma, non-small cell lung cancer, ovarian cancer, testicular cancer

Doctors administer vinorelbine in cycles of six weekly intravenous (IV) injections. This varies based on the patient’s health factors and whether vinorelbine is combined with another chemotherapy drug.

Vinorelbine in Mesothelioma Treatment

Vinorelbine regimens are not as effective as pemetrexed and cisplatin treatment for mesothelioma. Vinorelbine has shown some effectiveness and has relatively low toxicity. Doctors have continued to explore its value as a palliative or second-line therapy.

  • Palliative Therapy: It relieves symptoms and improves quality of life for those who cannot tolerate other cancer therapies.
  • Second-Line Therapy: Doctors may use vinorelbine to treat cancer reoccurrence after standard chemotherapy.

A 2017 study reviewed second-line chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma. International guidelines include vinorelbine as a suggested drug. Yet the research evidence supporting its use is inconclusive.

The Wales Cancer Trials Unit is studying the effectiveness of vinorelbine as a second-line treatment. The researchers also aim to determine whether the BRCA1 gene is required for vinorelbine to cause cancer-cell death.

A 2021 study discovered that vinorelbine is less effective in people with a BRCA1/MAD2L1 genetic deficiency.

Side Effects of Vinorelbine

Common side effects include:

  • Low red blood cell counts
  • Low white blood cell counts
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Mouth sores

Rare side effects include:

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities
  • Bruising and bleeding problems
  • Blood in urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood pressure changes
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