Gemcitabine (Injection)

Introduction

Gemcitabine (jem-SYE-ta-been)

Used alone or in combination with other medicines to treat breast cancer, ovarian cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and cancer of the pancreas.

Brand Name(s)

Gemzar

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to gemcitabine, or if you are pregnant.

How to Use This Medicine

Injectable

  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins.
  • You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • If this medicine gets on your skin, wash the area with soap and water, and tell your caregiver. If you get the medicine in your eyes, nose, or mouth, rinse the area with large amounts of water, and tell your caregiver.

If a dose is missed:

  • Call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Talk to your doctor before getting flu shots or other vaccines while you are receiving this medicine. Vaccines may not work as well, or they could make you ill while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have lung disease, kidney disease, or liver disease.
  • Cancer medicines can cause nausea and vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
  • This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood or urine at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Chest pain.
  • Dark urine, decrease in how much or how often you urinate.
  • Fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat.
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting.
  • Nausea, vomiting, severe itching, bleeding from your gums or nose.
  • Numbness or weakness in your arm or leg, or on one side of your body.
  • Pain, itching, burning, swelling, or a lump under your skin where the needle is placed.
  • Pinpoint red or purple spots on your skin.
  • Rapid weight gain.
  • Sudden or severe headache, problems with vision, hearing, speech, or walking.
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
  • Tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Hair loss.
  • Mild headache.
  • Muscle, joint, or bone pain.
  • Skin rash or itching.
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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This page was last updated: September 18, 2013

         
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