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Gemzar (Gemcitabine)

  

Warning: Rare but serious side effects may occur when taking Gemzar. They can include rapid heart beat, weakness, severe stomach pain, fainting, dizziness, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these severe side effects. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and pain and redness at the injection site.  If you experience swelling of the face tongue or throat you may be having an allergic reaction and you should seek immediate medical attention. 

 

Indications: This is an intravenous chemotherapy drug that can be used alone or with other prescribed medications from your doctor for the treatment of certain cancers.  This drug is for the treatment of breast, lung, ovarian, pancreatic and other malignancies such as bladder cancer and soft tissue sarcomas. This drug works by stopping or slowing down the growth of cancer cells. 

Gemzar can also be recommended for other medical conditions which are not mentioned here.

Dosage: Gemzar is given intravenously once a week by a health care professional or doctor.  It is a chemotherapy drug and should only be administered by a professional. Do not attempt to give yourself this medication.  The dosage of this medicine is determined by  your doctor and based on your response to the therapy. You will be closely monitored to determine if change in dosage is needed. Wash your skin immediately with soap and water if it comes into contact with this drug.

Overdose:  Gemzar overdose can cause serious health problem and fetal if the overdosing is high and long term. An overdose of Gemzar can damage your bone marrow, and lead to serious infections. During the treatment and even months after, avoid anything that can weaken your immune system and the risk of infection. If you think you have taken an overdose, contact your doctor or the poison control center nearest you as soon as possible to reduce or prevent complications.  

Contraindications: Make sure you disclose all allergies to your doctor before taking this medication. This product may contain ingredients you may be allergic to.  Tell your doctor your complete medical history before beginning this medication especially if you have had bone marrow problems or heart or kidney problems. Tell your doctor if you have received radiation therapy. To avoid risk of infection during the use of this medication, wash your hands thoroughly and avoid people who are sick.  Use caution when handling sharp objects such as razors and nail cutters. To reduce the risk of gum bleeding, use a soft bristle toothbrush. Do not take this medication if you are pregnant and consult a doctor for birth control options.  Although It is not known whether or not the medication is passed into breast milk, talk to your doctor before you breastfeed while taking Gemza.

 

Gemzar is not recommended or should be used with precaution in case of the following conditions:  

  • vaccine against yellow fever 
  • chronic kidney failure 
  • chronic liver failure 
  • radiotherapy 
  • severe leucopenia 
  • severe neutropenia 
  • thrombocytopenia 
  • Treatment with live attenuated vaccine or phenytoin.  

Mechanism of action (MOA): cancer cannot remain in the body if the malignant cells cannot divide rapidly; Gemzar selectively inhibits the synthesis of DNA that allows the cells to divide, which slows or stops the growth of cancer cells.  

Interactions:   It’s important to consult with your doctor before taking any other prescribed or non prescribed medications with Gemzar. This includes herbal medications. Taking certain drugs with this medication may change how it works. Write down all the medications you are taking and give the list to your doctor. They will be able to check to see if the drugs you are taking are going to interact with this medicine.  It’s also very important to keep taking your medication and not stop without a doctor’s approval. Because this drug is administered in a medical care facility by a health care professional or doctor, they will be able to closely monitor you and adjust the dose of medication.

 

Side effects: The fact that it attacks both cancer and healthy cells that reproduce quickly, Gemzar always causes the following side effects:  

  • hair loss
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • decreased appetite
  • weight loss
  • mouth blistering
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • Drying or darkening of the skin or nails

If the side effects above persist for weeks, contact your oncologist. In addition, contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:  

  • fever
  • chills
  • persistent cough
  • bloody diarrhea
  • muscle and/or bone
  • difficulty swallowing
  • severe red skin rash
  • severe stomach pain
  • shortness of breath
  • puffy face
  • sudden low or high blood pressure
  • painful urination or red urine
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • swelling of the feet or legs
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles