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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names: Gemzar

Generic Name: gemcitabine (Pronunciation: jem SYE ta been)

What is gemcitabine (Gemzar)?

Gemcitabine is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

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

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

What are the possible side effects of gemcitabine (Gemzar)?

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

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;
  • urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling;
  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;
  • sudden severe headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
  • white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
  • pain, swelling, or skin changes where the needle was placed;
  • hearing problems;
  • blood in your urine; or
  • breathing problems.

Less serious side effects may include:

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 is the most important information I should know about gemcitabine (Gemzar)?

Gemcitabine is injected into a vein through an IV. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting. Gemcitabine is usually given once a week for several weeks. The medicine must be given slowly, and the IV infusion can take up to 30 minutes to complete.

Gemcitabine can lower the blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. To be sure your blood cells do not get too low, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Your kidney and liver function may also need to be checked. Do not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while you are being treated with 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.

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



Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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