Gemcitabine is a type of chemotherapy medicine known as an ‘ antimetabolite’. Antimetabolites are groups of anticancer agents that exert their cytotoxic effects by interfering with the DNA synthesis (union).

Gemcitabine works by stopping the cancer cells from multiplying. It does this by being included into the cell’s genetic material, DNA and RNA. Both DNA and RNA are needed for cells to grow, repair themselves and multiply. Gemcitabine causes problems with the production of DNA and RNA in the cancer cells. This causes the cells to grow in an unbalanced way and this results in the death of the cells.

On this page:


  • Relapsed or refractory Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Newly diagnosed advanced stage or relapsed/refractory extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma
  • First line chemotherapy for stage I-II nasal type extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma following radiotherapy or concurrent radio chemotherapy
  • Second line salvage chemotherapy followed by high dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant
  • Early unfavourable or advanced stage Hodgkin lymphoma in patients > 60 years of age OR patients < 60 years of age considered unfit for ABVD or BEACOPP- escalated
  • Relapsed or refractory CD20 positive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Relapsed/refractory CD20 positive non-Hodgkin lymphoma in patients either ineligible for high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT), or who have relapsed from a prior ASCT


The amount of gemcitabine depends on many factors including:

  • Height and weight
  • General health or other health problems
  • Type of lymphoma being treated

How is it given

  • It is given as an infusion into a vein
  • Usually over 30 minutes
  • The number of doses given in each treatment cycle and the number of cycles depends on the type of lymphoma being treated , how well it responds and how well the patient copes with the chemotherapy.

Possible side-effects

  • Anaemia
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Neutropenia
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sores in the mouth and throat
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Sore or painful muscles
  • Pain, burning, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Chills and fever.
  • Swelling, pain, redness, or burning at the injection site

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