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gemcitabine

Pronunciation: jem SYE ta been

Brand: Gemzar, Infugem

What is the most important information I should know about gemcitabine?

Gemcitabine can increase your risk of bleeding or infection. Call your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, or new signs of infection (fever, chills, tiredness, bruising or bleeding, pale skin).

Gemcitabine can also affect your liver, kidneys, or lungs. Tell your doctor if you have stomach pain, dark urine, yellow skin or eyes, little or no urinating, swelling, rapid weight gain, severe shortness of breath, wheezing, or cough with foamy mucus.

If you receive gemcitabine during or after radiation treatment, tell your doctor right away if you have severe skin redness, swelling, oozing, or peeling.

What is gemcitabine?

Gemcitabine is used to treat cancers of the pancreas, lung, ovary, and breast.

Gemcitabine is sometimes given with other cancer medicines, or when other cancer treatments did not work or have stopped working.

Gemcitabine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving gemcitabine?

You should not use gemcitabine if you are allergic to it.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • kidney disease;
  • liver disease (especially cirrhosis);
  • alcoholism; or
  • radiation treatment.

Both men and women using this medicine should use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy. Gemcitabine can harm an unborn baby if the mother or father is using this medicine.

  • If you are a woman, do not use gemcitabine if you are pregnant. You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 6 months after your last dose.
  • If you are a man, use effective birth control if your sex partner is able to get pregnant. Keep using birth control for at least 3 months after your last dose.
  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using gemcitabine.

This medicine may affect fertility (ability to have children) in men. However, it is important to use birth control to prevent pregnancy because gemcitabine can harm an unborn baby.

You should not breastfeed while you are using gemcitabine, and for at least 1 week after your last dose.

How is gemcitabine used?

Gemcitabine is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when gemcitabine is injected.

If any of this medicine accidentally gets on your skin, wash the area thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Gemcitabine can increase your risk of bleeding or infection. You will need frequent medical tests.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your gemcitabine injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while using gemcitabine?

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury.

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using gemcitabine, and avoid coming into contact with anyone who has recently received a live vaccine. There is a chance that the virus could be passed on to you. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.

This medicine can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). For at least 48 hours after you receive a dose, avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or other surfaces. Caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient's body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.

What are the possible side effects of gemcitabine?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

  • headache, confusion, change in mental status, vision loss, seizure (convulsions);
  • blisters or ulcers in your mouth, trouble eating or swallowing;
  • severe skin redness, swelling, oozing, or peeling during or after radiation treatment;
  • liver problems --loss of appetite, stomach pain (upper right side), itching, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • low blood cell counts --fever, chills, tiredness, skin sores, cold hands and feet, feeling light-headed;
  • fluid build-up in or around the lungs --pain when you breathe, feeling short of breath while lying down, wheezing, gasping for breath, cough with foamy mucus, cold, clammy skin, anxiety, rapid heartbeats; or
  • signs of damaged red blood cells --unusual bruising or bleeding, pale skin, bloody diarrhea, red or pink urine, swelling, rapid weight gain, and little or no urination.

Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.

Common side effects may include:

  • fever;
  • nausea, vomiting;
  • low blood cell counts;
  • abnormal blood or urine tests;
  • shortness of breath;
  • swelling in your hands or feet;
  • rash; or
  • red or pink urine.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect gemcitabine?

Other drugs may affect gemcitabine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about gemcitabine.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2019 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 9.01. Revision date: 8/30/2019.

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