Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Blood clotting: This medication can reduce the number of platelet cells in the blood. Your doctor will monitor the number of platelets in your blood with regular blood tests while you are using this medication. Platelets help the blood to clot, and a shortage could make you bleed more easily. Tell your doctor of any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly. Such symptoms may include black and tarry stools, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that won't stop bleeding.
Fever and flu-like symptoms: Gemcitabine can cause a fever and flu-like symptoms (chills, feeling unwell) that are not associated with an infection. Your doctor may prescribed acetaminophen to help treat this reaction.
Infection: As well as killing cancer cells, this medication can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). Avoid contact with people who have contagious infections and tell your doctor if you begin to notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills. Your doctor will monitor the number of white blood cells in your blood with regular blood tests while you are using this medication.
Kidney problems: Rarely, gemcitabine can cause a rapid breakdown of red blood cells that can be associated with kidney failure and may be fatal. Your doctor will monitor you for this while you are receiving this medication. People who have kidney problems should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Liver problems: People with liver problems (e.g., hepatitis, cirrhosis, alcoholism, cancer in the liver) should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Pregnancy: Gemcitabine should not be used during pregnancy. Effective birth control should be used while receiving this medication. Gemcitabine may harm the baby if used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if gemcitabine passes into breast milk. Women receiving gemcitabine should not breast-feed.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.