Gemcitabine is used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer of the ovaries (cancer that begins in the female reproductive organs where eggs are formed) and breast cancer that has not improved or that has worsened after treatment with other medications. Gemcitabine is used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs to treat a type of lung cancer (non-small cell lung cancer; NSCLC) that has spread to other parts of the body and cannot be treated with surgery. Gemcitabine is also used to treat cancer of the pancreas that has spread to other parts of the body and has not improved or worsened after treatment with another medication. Gemcitabine is in a class of medications called antimetabolites. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells in your body.
Gemcitabine comes as a powder to be mixed with liquid to be injected over 30 minutes intravenously (into a vein) by a doctor or nurse in a medical facility. When gemcitabine is used to treat ovarian or breast cancer, it is usually given on certain days every 3 weeks. When gemcitabine is used to treat lung cancer it is usually given on certain days every 3 or 4 weeks. When gemcitabine is used to treat cancer of pancreas it may be injected once every week. The length of treatment depends on the types of drugs you are taking, how well your body responds to them, and the type of cancer or condition you have. Your doctor may need to stop or delay your treatment if you experience certain side effects.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient.
Gemcitabine is also sometimes used to treat bladder cancer and cancer of the biliary tract (cancer in the organs and ducts that make and store bile, the liquid made by the liver). Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before receiving gemcitabine, tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to gemcitabine, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in gemcitabine. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take.tell your doctor if you drink or have ever drunk large amounts of alcohol or if you have or ever had liver disease, including hepatitis, or kidney disease.tell your doctor if you have previously received or are currently receiving radiation therapy.tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you become pregnant while receiving gemcitabine, call your doctor. Gemcitabine may harm the fetus.tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You should not breast-feed while you are receiving gemcitabine injection.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
Gemcitabine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away: nauseavomitingdiarrheaconstipationloss of appetitesores in the mouth and throathair lossheadachesore or painful musclesrashitchingpain, burning, or tingling in the hands or feetswelling, pain, redness, or burning at the injection site
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately : unusual bleeding or bruisingred or black, tarry stoolspink, red, or dark brown urinecoughing up or vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee groundsfever, sore throat, ongoing cough and congestion, or other signs of infectionunusual tiredness or weaknessshortness of breathyellowing of the skin or eyespain in the upper right part of the stomachdecreased urinationswelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legsfast, irregular, or pounding heartbeathivesdifficulty breathing or swallowing
Gemcitabine may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following: severe rashpain, burning, or tingling in the hands or feetunusual bleeding or bruisingred or black, tarry stoolspink, red, or dark brown urinecoughing up or vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee groundsfever, sore throat, ongoing cough and congestion, or other signs of infectionextreme tiredness
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your body's response to gemcitabine.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Selected Revisions: December 15, 2012.