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Vinorelbine, also known by the brand name Navelbine, is a chemotherapy drug that has been tested as a second-line treatment for mesothelioma, both as a single agent and in combination with other drugs such as cisplatin or gemcitabine.

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Vinorelbine belongs to a family of chemotherapy drugs known as vinca alkaloids, which were initially created from extracts of the periwinkle plant. The antitumor effects of this drug were discovered in 1959.

Vinorelbine is classified as an antineoplastic agent. It binds to microtubular proteins in cells. Microtubules are needed for cell reproduction, so damage to the microtubules by 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

Vinorelbine is typically administered in cycles of six weekly intravenous (IV) injections, though 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 at extending survival as the standard pemetrexed and cisplatin treatment for mesothelioma. However, because 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: Vinorelbine can relieve symptoms and improve quality of life for mesothelioma patients who cannot tolerate other cancer therapies.
  • Second-Line Therapy: Doctors may administer a regimen including vinorelbine to treat cancer reoccurrence after a patient has already received standard chemotherapy.

A 2017 review of second-line chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma suggests even though international guidelines include vinorelbine as a suggested drug, the research evidence supporting its use is inconclusive.

In 2014, the Wales Cancer Trials Unit began a phase II clinical trial to further study 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.

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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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Registered Nurse and Patient Advocate

Karen Selby joined in 2009. She is a registered nurse with a background in oncology and thoracic surgery and was the regional director of a tissue bank before becoming a Patient Advocate at The Mesothelioma Center. Karen has assisted surgeons with thoracic surgeries such as lung resections, lung transplants, pneumonectomies, pleurectomies and wedge resections. She is also a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at
Edited by
Dr. Daniel Landau, mesothelioma specialist & medical content reviewer for
Medical Review By

9 Cited Article Sources

The sources on all content featured in The Mesothelioma Center at include medical and scientific studies, peer-reviewed studies and other research documents from reputable organizations.

  1. DrugBank. (2017, November 13). Vinorelbine. Retrieved from:
  2. Addeo, A., Buffoni, L., and Di Maio, M. (2017, September). Is There Room for Second-Line Treatment of Pleural Malignant Mesothelioma? Retrieved from:
  3. (2017, April 11). Vinorelbine in Mesothelioma (VIM). Retrieved from:
  4. Cancer Research UK. (2015, July 24). Vinorelbine (Navelbine). Retrieved from:
  5. Zauderer, M. et al. (2014, June). Vinorelbine and gemcitabine as second- or third-line therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Retrieved from:
  6. Zucali, P. et al. (2014, June). Vinorelbine in pemetrexed-pretreated patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Retrieved from:
  7. Stebbing, J. et al. (2009, January). The efficacy and safety of weekly vinorelbine in relapsed malignant pleural mesothelioma. Retrieved from:
  8. Steele, J. et al. (2000, December). Phase II Study of Vinorelbine in Patients With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved from:
  9. (n.d.). Vinorelbine. Retrieved from:

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Last Modified September 14, 2020

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