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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Quick Drug Information (DrugNotes) > Gemcitabine (Injection)

Gemcitabine (Injection)

Gemcitabine (jem-SITE-a-been)

Treats cancer of the pancreas. Also treats lung cancer in combination with other medicines.

Brand Name(s):

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not be treated with this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to gemcitabine.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • This medicine, like all medicines used to treat cancer, is very strong. Make sure you understand why you are getting it and what the risks and benefits of treatment are. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor.
  • Your doctor will prescribe the amount of medicine you should have and when it will be given.
  • Your medicine may be given through a tube put in one of your veins. This is called intravenous (in-tra-VEEN-us), or IV.
  • A nurse or other caregiver trained to give cancer drugs will give your treatment.
  • If you get your treatments at home, you may need to store your medicine. The medicine is a powder that your caregiver will mix with a liquid before you have your treatment. Keep the powder at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and light. After the medicine has been mixed with liquid it should be used within 24 hours. Keep the mixed medicine at room temperature, do not put it in the refrigerator.
  • Do not let the medicine get on your skin or in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If the 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:

  • This medicine needs to be given on a regular schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or the clinic where you get your treatments for instructions.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • If you get your treatments at a clinic, the staff at the clinic will keep your medicine there.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children.
  • If you get your treatments at home, you should be given a special container for the used needles, medicine bag or bottles, and tubes. Put it where children or pets cannot reach it.
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 any vaccines while you are being treated with this medicine.
Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Do not breastfeed while you are getting this medicine.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you have severe liver or kidney disease before you are treated with this medicine.
  • You may get infections more easily while you are being treated with this medicine. Stay away from crowds or people with colds, flu, or other infections.
  • This medicine may make your mouth sore and irritated. Brush your teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush or mouth swab.
  • Gemcitabine can cause nausea and vomiting. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to keep you from feeling sick and throwing up. If the medicine does not help (you can't keep liquids down), call your doctor.
  • You will need to have your blood tested regularly while getting this medicine to make sure it is working and not causing harmful side effects.
  • Do not get pregnant while you are receiving gemcitabine. Use an effective method of birth control while you are being treated with this medicine to keep from getting pregnant.
  • If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor before you start your treatments. This medicine may cause birth defects and harm an unborn baby.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

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

  • Unexplained fever, chills, or sore throat
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising, small purple or red spots on your skin
  • Uncontrollable nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Painful mouth sores that keep you from drinking liquids
  • Wheezing, trouble breathing, feeling short of breath
  • Severe rash or hives
  • Yellowing of skin or eyes
  • Bloody or cloudy urine

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

  • Loss of appetite, mild nausea
  • Muscle pain
  • Hair loss
  • Mild rash
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet
  • Mild swelling in your hands or feet
  • Feeling tired
  • Diarrhea or constipation
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor.

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