Gemcitabine Side Effects
A few of the most common side effects of gemcitabine include increased liver enzymes, leukopenia, and nausea and vomiting. Some side effects occur less frequently, but are much more serious and should be reported to a healthcare provider immediately. Seek medical attention right away if you develop serious gemcitabine side effects such as difficulty breathing, blood in the stool, or any signs of an allergic reaction.
An Introduction to Gemcitabine Side EffectsAs with any medicine, side effects are possible with gemcitabine (Gemzar®). However, not everyone who takes the medication will experience side effects. In fact, some people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in some cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are easily treated by you or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with gemcitabine. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of gemcitabine side effects with you.)
Common Gemcitabine Side EffectsGemcitabine has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occur in a group of people taking the drug are documented and are then compared to side effects that occur in another group of people not taking the medicine. In these studies, the most common side effects of gemcitabine included:
- Increased liver enzymes (which can be a sign of liver damage) -- in up to 72 percent of people
- Leukopenia (low levels of certain white blood cells called leukocytes) -- up to 71 percent
- Nausea and vomiting -- up to 69 percent of people (see Chemotherapy and Nausea)
- Anemia -- up to 68 percent (see Chemotherapy and Anemia)
- Neutropenia (low levels of certain white blood cells called neutrophils) -- up to 63 percent
- Pain -- up to 48 percent (see Chemotherapy-Related Pain)
- Low platelets in the blood -- up to 47 percent (see Blood Clotting Problems and Chemotherapy).
Some other common gemcitabine side effects, occurring in 2 percent to 41 percent of people, included:
- Constipation (see Constipation With Chemotherapy)
- Diarrhea (see Chemotherapy-Induced Diarrhea)
- Hair loss (see Gemzar and Hair Loss)
- Mouth sores (see Mouth and Gum Problems During Chemotherapy)
- Unusual sensations, such as burning or tingling (see Nerve and Muscle Problems During Chemotherapy)
- Blood in the urine.