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Understanding Lung Cancer Medications (cont.)

Antimetabolites

Gemcitabine (Gemzar) is a newer drug in this class that inhibits DNA production.

  • Who should not use these medications: Persons with allergy to gemcitabine should not take it.
  • Schedule: Antimetabolites are given as an IV injection each week for the first 3 weeks of each 4-week chemotherapy cycle.
  • Drug or food interactions: Antimetabolites may increase the effects of warfarin (Coumadin).
  • Side effects: Antimetabolites may cause a person to bleed or to develop infections more easily. A doctor will check blood and urine for abnormalities that may be caused by these drugs.
    • A doctor should be contacted immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
      • Unexplained fever, chills, or sore throat
      • Severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
      • Unusual bleeding or bruising
      • Small red or purple dots on the skin
      • Yellowing of skin or eyes
      • Wheezing or trouble breathing
      • Severe rash or hives
      • Bloody or cloudy urine
    • Other side effects include the following:
      • Poor appetite
      • Diarrhea or constipation
      • Muscle pain
      • Hair loss
      • Mild rash
      • Numbness, tingling, or mild swelling in the feet or hands
      • Tiredness

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/9/2014
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