How It Works
Gemcitabine is an
intravenous (IV) medicine that is usually given in a
dose based on body surface area. The type and extent of a cancer determines the
exact dose and schedule of administering this drug.
It's usually given through a needle in a vein. Each dose takes about 30 minutes. Doses may be repeated weekly, depending on treatment needs.
Why It Is Used
Gemcitabine interferes with how cells divide, which stops the
growth of the cancer cells. It is used to treat pancreatic and lung cancer. It
may also be used to treat bladder, breast, ovarian, or cervical cancer or
How Well It Works
Gemcitabine is effective against many forms of cancer. But the
type and extent of a cancer determines how effectively this medicine slows or
stops the growth of cancer cells in the body.
Possible serious side effects of gemcitabine
- Allergic reactions. Signs of allergic
reaction can include trouble breathing; swelling or closing of the throat;
swollen face, tongue, or lips; or hives.
- Low blood counts, which may increase the risk of infection and bleeding.
- Feeling extremely tired, bruising or bleeding
easily, or signs of infection such as a fever or chills.
These symptoms may mean that the medicine caused the numbers of your
white or red blood cells or platelets to
- Severe nausea and
- Blood in the urine or rarely needing to
Less serious side effects are more common and may
- Fever and flu-like symptoms.
- Nausea, vomiting, and loss of
Hair loss. This is reversible, and hair
will grow back when treatment ends.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference
is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Gemcitabine should be administered only under the supervision of a
You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after
taking this medicine. Discuss fertility with your doctor before starting
Gemcitabine can cause birth defects. Do not use this medicine if
you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant or to father a child while you are
Do not breast-feed while you are using gemcitabine.
Do not use this medicine if you have:
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology
Current as of
||March 5, 2012