Generic Name: Gemcitabine (jem SITE a been)
Brand Name: Gemzar
Medically reviewed on Feb 6, 2019
Uses of Gemzar:
- It is used to treat cancer.
What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Gemzar?
- If you have an allergy to gemcitabine or any other part of Gemzar (gemcitabine).
- If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
- If you are getting radiation.
- If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take Gemzar (gemcitabine) and for 1 week after your last dose.
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with Gemzar (gemcitabine).
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take Gemzar (gemcitabine) with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.
What are some things I need to know or do while I take Gemzar?
- Tell all of your health care providers that you take Gemzar (gemcitabine). This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
- You may have more chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
- You may bleed more easily. Be careful and avoid injury. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor.
- Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
- If you have had or will be having radiation treatment, talk with your doctor. Worse side effects from radiation treatment have happened with Gemzar (gemcitabine).
- Capillary leak syndrome (CLS) is a very bad health problem that has happened with Gemzar (gemcitabine). Sometimes, CLS can be deadly. Tell your doctor right away if you get signs of CLS like change in how much urine is passed; not able to pass urine; blood in the urine; a fast or abnormal heartbeat; chest pain or pressure; dizziness or passing out; shortness of breath; a big weight gain; swelling; throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds; or if you have black, tarry, or bloody stools.
- This medicine may cause very bad and sometimes deadly lung problems. Call your doctor right away if you have trouble breathing. These lung problems can happen up to 2 weeks after Gemzar (gemcitabine) is stopped.
- A very bad and sometimes deadly brain problem called posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) has happened with Gemzar (gemcitabine). Call your doctor right away if you have signs like feeling confused, lowered alertness, change in eyesight, loss of eyesight, seizures, or very bad headache.
- Very bad and sometimes deadly liver problems have happened with Gemzar (gemcitabine). Call your doctor right away if you have signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
- This medicine may irritate the vein. If the drug leaks from the vein, it may also cause irritation around that area. Tell your nurse if you have any redness, burning, pain, swelling, or leaking of fluid where the drug is going into your body.
- If you are 65 or older, use Gemzar (gemcitabine) with care. You could have more side effects.
- This medicine may affect being able to father a child. Talk with the doctor.
- If you are a man and have sex with a female who could get pregnant, protect her from pregnancy during care and for 3 months after care ends. Use birth control that you can trust.
- If you are a man and your sex partner gets pregnant while you take Gemzar (gemcitabine) or within 3 months after your last dose, call your doctor right away.
- This medicine may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.
- Use birth control that you can trust to prevent pregnancy while taking Gemzar (gemcitabine) and for 6 months after stopping Gemzar (gemcitabine).
- If you get pregnant while taking Gemzar (gemcitabine) or within 6 months after your last dose, call your doctor right away.
How is this medicine (Gemzar) best taken?
Use Gemzar (gemcitabine) as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.
- It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.
- If you have upset stomach, throwing up, diarrhea, or are not hungry, talk with your doctor. There may be ways to lower these side effects.
- Talk with your doctor before getting any vaccines. Use of some vaccines with Gemzar (gemcitabine) may either raise the chance of an infection or make the vaccine not work as well.
- If you are able to get pregnant, a pregnancy test will be done to show that you are NOT pregnant before starting Gemzar (gemcitabine). Talk with your doctor.
What do I do if I miss a dose?
- Call your doctor to find out what to do.
What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
- Signs of bleeding like throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds; coughing up blood; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; vaginal bleeding that is not normal; bruises without a reason or that get bigger; or any bleeding that is very bad or that you cannot stop.
- Signs of high blood sugar like confusion, feeling sleepy, more thirst, more hungry, passing urine more often, flushing, fast breathing, or breath that smells like fruit.
- Signs of electrolyte problems like mood changes, confusion, muscle pain or weakness, a heartbeat that does not feel normal, seizures, not hungry, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
- Very bad dizziness or passing out.
- Shortness of breath.
- A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
- Mood changes.
- A blood problem called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) has happened with Gemzar (gemcitabine). Severe kidney problems have happened and sometimes dialysis was needed. Sometimes, these kidney problems have been deadly. Call your doctor right away if you feel very tired or weak or have any bruising or bleeding, change in how much urine is passed, confusion, dark urine, fast heartbeat, fever, mood or behavior changes, pale skin, seizures, shortness of breath, stomach pain, or throwing up.
What are some other side effects of Gemzar?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
- Upset stomach or throwing up.
- Hair loss.
- Flu-like signs. These include headache, weakness, fever, shakes, aches, pains, and sweating.
- Not hungry.
- Mouth irritation or mouth sores.
- Feeling tired or weak.
- Feeling sleepy.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
How do I store and/or throw out Gemzar?
- If you need to store Gemzar (gemcitabine) at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.
Consumer information use
- If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
- Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
- Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
- Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
- Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
- Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about Gemzar (gemcitabine), please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
More about Gemzar (gemcitabine)
- Gemzar Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 5 Reviews
- Generic Availability
- Drug class: antimetabolites
- FDA Alerts (1)
Other brands: Infugem