Lung Cancer Home > What Is Gemcitabine Used For?

Part of a group of medications called antimetabolites, gemcitabine works to prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells for various types of cancers. Gemcitabine is used for treating ovarian cancer, breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer. From time to time, gemcitabine is also used for treating something other than the cancers mentioned above. Among these possible "off-label" gemcitabine uses are the treatment of bladder cancer or mesothelioma.

What Is Gemcitabine Used For?

Gemcitabine (Gemzar®) is a prescription medication used for treating various types of cancer. It is part of a group of chemotherapy medications called antimetabolites. Specifically, gemcitabine is approved to treat the following types of cancer:
 
  • Ovarian cancer -- gemcitabine is used in combination with carboplatin (Paraplatin®) to treat advanced ovarian cancer that has relapsed at least six months after previous chemotherapy involving a platinum-type medication (any medication with "platin" in the name).
     
  • Breast cancer -- gemcitabine is used in combination with paclitaxel (Taxol®) to treat metastatic breast cancer (or breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) after breast cancer surgery and previous unsuccessful chemotherapy involving an anthracycline medication (any medication with "rubicin" in the name).
     
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) -- gemcitabine is used in combination with cisplatin (Platinol®) to treat inoperable non-small cell lung cancer that has spread, either to the surrounding tissues or to other parts of the body (Stages IIIA, IIIB, or IV).
     
  • Pancreatic cancer -- gemcitabine is used to treat pancreatic cancer that has spread to surrounding tissues or to other parts of the body (Stages II, III, or IV). Gemcitabine can also be used to treat these cancers in people who have tried 5-fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil®) unsuccessfully.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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