Medication Information Leaflet

What is this medication for?

Gemcitabine is a chemotherapy drug used to treat certain types of cancer such as bladder, pancreatic, lung, nasopharyngeal and breast cancer. It is often used in combination with other types of chemotherapy.

How should I take/use this medication?

Gemcitabine is given via an injection into the vein, as an infusion (drip).

What precautions should I take?

Inform your healthcare professional if:

  • You are allergic to this medication or any of the other ingredients of this medication
  • You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • You are taking any other medications, including supplements, traditional medications and herbal remedies.

What are some common side-effects of this medication?

  • Early side-effects
    • Nausea or vomiting may occur
      • You may be given anti-vomiting medications, take them as directed to help prevent or decrease these side effects.
      • Take small frequent meals and avoid strong smells which may trigger nausea.
    • Temporary flu-like symptoms (e.g. mild fever, joint and muscle ache, chills, fatigue, headache)
      • You can take paracetamol to help with fever or muscle and joint aches.
  • Delayed side-effects
    • A drop in blood cell counts. This may put you at a higher risk of infections, bleeding or bruising, or feeling tired.
      • To reduce risks of getting an infection, practise good personal hygiene, avoid crowded places or people who are sick and avoid eating raw food
      • To reduce risks of bleeding and bruising, do not pick your nose. Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
      • If you are feeling tired, do not drive or engage in activities that require concentration.
    • Diarrhea
      • Drink at least two litres (8 cups) of fluids every day if you are having diarrhea
      • Avoid milk, dairy products, high fibre food or spicy food if you are having diarrhea
    • Itchy rashes
      • Inform your doctor or nurse if it occurs. Applying a steroid cream may help.
    • Water retention causing swelling of the lower limbs
      • Elevating your legs on a foot stool, cushion or pillow may help to reduce the swelling.
    • Mild hair loss or thinning may begin several weeks after treatment
      • Wear a wig or hat, and use a gentle shampoo
    • Lung problems
      • Let your doctor know if you feel more breathless

What are some rare but serious side-effects that I need to seek medical advice immediately?

  • Fever of 38° C or higher
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising or black tarry stools
  • Severe skin rash or itching
  • Persistent shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

What food or medication should I avoid when I am on this medication?

Avoid taking traditional chinese medications (TCM) or ‘jamu’ when you are on this medication



If you take more than the recommended dose, please seek medical advice immediately. The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.

This article is jointly developed by members of the National Medication Information workgroup. The workgroup consists of cluster partners (National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth), community pharmacies (Guardian, Unity and Watsons) and Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore. The content does not reflect drug availability and supply information in pharmacies and healthcare institutions. You are advised to check with the respective institutions for such information.

Last updated on May 2022

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