Digital ischemic events related to gemcitabine: Report of two cases and a systematic review

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Digital ischemic events related to gemcitabine: Report of two cases and a systematic review

Background. Gemcitabine is a potent cytotoxic agent used in the treatment of many solid tumours, sarcomas and lymphomas. Vascular toxicity and thrombotic events related to gemcitabine seem to be underreported.

Case report. We report two cases of gemcitabine related digital ischemic events.

Case 1. A 65-year-old man was given the first-line treatment with gemcitabine for the advanced adenocarcinoma of pancreas. After four weekly doses of gemcitabine (total dose 4000 mg/m2) he presented with Raynaud's like phenomenon and ischemic fingertips necrosis in five digits of both hands. Symptoms resolved in all but one digit after stopping chemotherapy and treatment with iloprost trometamol infusion.

Case 2. A 77-year-old man, ex-smoker, was administered a combination of gemcitabine and cisplatin as the first-line treatment for the locally advanced bladder cancer. After 4 cycles of the treatment (total dose of gemcitabine 4000 mg/m2) the patient suffered digital ischemia and necrosis on two digits of a right leg. Arteriography revealed preexisting peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD) of both legs with very good peripheral collateral circulation and absent microcirculation of affected two digits. The gemcitabine treatment was stopped and the patient was treated with iloprost trometamol infusion and percutaneous transluminal angioplasty with dilatation of the right superficial femoral artery. Digital changes resolved without consequences. Severe thrombocytosis (platelet count 1211 × 109/L) might have also contributed to the ischemic digital event in the second case.

Conclusions. Digital ischemic events associated with gemcitabine chemotherapy seem to be more common in patients with tobacco-associated cancers, especially when used in combination with platinum salt. The treatment with gemcitabine in patients with evolving Raynaud's phenomenon and/or preexisting PAOD should be done with caution.

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Radiology and Oncology

The Journal of Association of Radiology and Oncology

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