Gemcitabine is used in combination with carboplatin to treat ovarian cancer (cancer that begins in the female reproductive organs where eggs are formed) that returned at least 6 months after finishing a previous treatment. It also used in combination with paclitaxel (Abraxane, Taxol) to treat breast cancer that has not improved or that has worsened after treatment with other medications. Gemcitabine is used in combination with cisplatin 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 pancreatic cancer 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 pancreatic cancer, 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,
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:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately :
Gemcitabine may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while receiving 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 the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at Web Site. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests before and during your treatment 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: August 15, 2019.