Common Brand Name(s): Gemzar
Important: How To Use This Information
This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.
Gemcitabine is used to treat certain types of cancer (including breast, lung, ovarian, pancreatic). It is a chemotherapy drug that works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells.
This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.
This drug may also be used for other types of cancer (such as bladder).
How To Use
This medication is given by injection into a vein by a healthcare professional. It is given over 30 minutes as directed by your doctor. The dosage is based on your medical condition, body size, and response to treatment.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, drowsiness, muscle aches, and pain/redness/swelling at the injection site may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended.
People using this medication may have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this drug because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:
- signs of lung problems (such as shortness of breath, cough)
- swelling ankles/feet/hands
- numb/tingling skin
- fast/slow/irregular heartbeat
- signs of kidney problems (such as change in the amount of urine, bloody urine)
- signs of liver disease (such as yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, stomach/abdominal pain)
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including:
- chest/jaw/left arm pain
- severe headache
- trouble speaking
- weakness on one side of the body
- vision changes
- mental/mood changes (such as confusion)
This medication may decrease bone marrow function, an effect that may lead to a low number of blood cells such as red cells, white cells, and platelets. This effect can cause anemia, decrease your body's ability to fight an infection, or cause easy bruising/bleeding. Tell your doctor right away if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- unusual tiredness
- pale skin
- signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn't go away, fever, chills)
- easy bruising/bleeding
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:
- itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- severe dizziness
- trouble breathing
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before using gemcitabine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- radiation treatment
- heart problems (such as irregular heartbeat, heart failure)
This drug may make you drowsy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Gemcitabine can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details.
Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose).
To lower the chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports.
Older female adults are more sensitive to the side effects of this medication, especially the risk of infection and easy bruising/bleeding.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while using gemcitabine. Gemcitabine may harm an unborn baby. Your doctor should order a pregnancy test before you start this medication. Women should ask about reliable forms of birth control while using this medication and for 6 months after stopping treatment. Men should ask about reliable forms of birth control while using this medication and for 3 months after stopping treatment. If you or your partner becomes pregnant, talk to your doctor right away about the risks and benefits of this medication.
It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug and for 1 week after stopping treatment is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Lab and/or medical tests (such as complete blood count, liver/kidney function, blood pressure) should be done while you are using this medication. Keep all medical and lab appointments. Consult your doctor for more details.
For the best possible benefit, it is important to receive each scheduled dose of this medication as directed. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist right away to establish a new dosing schedule.
Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
Information last revised June 2019.
Copyright(c) 2019 First Databank, Inc.
Conditions of use: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for the expertise and judgment of healthcare professionals. The information in not intend to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects nor should it be construed in indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.