Gemcitabine is used alone or with other treatments/medications 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.
OTHER USES: 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 to treat certain other cancers, such as bladder cancer.
Read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your healthcare professional before you start receiving gemcitabine and each scheduled dose. If you have any questions, ask your healthcare professional.
This medication is given by injection into a vein by a healthcare professional, usually over 30 minutes once a week or as directed by your doctor. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy.
If this medication touches your skin, wash the skin right away and completely with soap and water.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pain/redness at the injection site, and flu-like symptoms (e.g., fever, muscle aches) may occur. Nausea and vomiting can be severe. In some cases, drug therapy may be needed to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Changes in diet and lifestyle, such as eating several small meals or limiting activity, may help lessen some of these effects. If any of these effects persist or worsen, contact your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: dizziness/lightheadedness, fainting, mouth sores, numbness/tingling of hands/feet, sudden weight gain, swelling of ankles/feet, severe stomach/abdominal pain, cough, difficulty catching your breath (shortness of breath, wheezing), fast/irregular heartbeat, signs of kidney problems (such as easy bruising/bleeding, change in the amount of urine, unusual tiredness), dark urine, yellowing of the eyes/skin.
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: chest pain, jaw/left arm pain, weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, vision changes, confusion, seizures, severe headache.
This medication can lower your ability to fight an infection (bone marrow depression). Notify your doctor promptly if you develop any signs of infection (e.g., high fever, chills, persistent sore throat).
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: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), 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: bone marrow problems (e.g., leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia), heart problems (e.g., irregular heartbeat, heart failure), kidney problems, liver problems, radiation therapy.
Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor, and avoid contact with people who have recently received oral polio vaccine.
Wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infections.
To lower the chance of getting cut, bruised or injured, use caution with sharp objects like safety razors or nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to lessen the risk of bleeding gums.
This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may harm an unborn baby. Discuss the use of reliable forms of birth control (such as condoms, birth control pills) with your doctor.
It is not known whether this medication passes into breast milk. Because of the potential harm to the nursing infant, breast-feeding while using this drug 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.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., blood pressure, complete blood counts before each dose, kidney function tests, liver function tests, serum albumin) should be performed from time to time to monitor for side effects and response to treatment. Consult your doctor for more details. Keep all scheduled medical appointments.
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.
Not applicable. This medication is given in a clinic and will not be stored at home.
MEDICAL ALERT: 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 July 2016. Copyright(c) 2016 First Databank, Inc.
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