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What Are the Uses of Gemcitabine and Docetaxel?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Gemcitabine and docetaxel are chemotherapy drugs that may be used by themselves or together to treat patients with certain types of cancer. Docetaxel is commonly prescribed for patients with prostate, lung, or breast cancer, as well as cancers of the head, neck, and stomach. Gemcitabine is an antimetabolite cancer drug that doctors primarily prescribe for lung, breast, and ovarian cancer, as well as cancers of the pancreas and bladder.

Both of these chemotherapy drugs are administered intravenously, or into a vein, rather than swallowed as a pill. A corticosteroid medicine will be given prior to a docetaxel infusion to help alleviate some of the side effects. The exact treatment schedule and dosage will vary, depending on each individual patient's needs and the response of the patient to the drugs. Docetaxel may typically be given every three weeks, for example. While taking gemcitabine and docetaxel, patients will be monitored carefully with blood tests and organ function tests.

Gemcitabine and docetaxel, chemotherapy drugs, can cause temporary hair loss.
Gemcitabine and docetaxel, chemotherapy drugs, can cause temporary hair loss.

Some side effects are likely to occur with the use of gemcitabine and docetaxel, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Patients may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, along with fatigue and muscle, joint, or bone pain. Changes in taste, hair loss, and redness or swelling around the injection site have been reported. Some people may experience inflammation or sores in the mouth, sleepiness, and constipation.

More serious side effects require a doctor's urgent care. Gemcitabine and docetaxel may sometimes cause bloody urine or stool, blood with coughing, or cloudy urine, along with chest pain, problems breathing, or problems moving. Some patients may experience painful or difficult urination, numbness or tingling, and unusual bruising or bleeding. These drugs may also cause blistering skin, lack of strength, and nosebleeds.

Certain precautions should be followed while undergoing treatment for cancer. Patients should maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, and rest often. They should also avoid excessive exposure to sunlight and contact with sick people, as they may be more likely to contract an infection. Vaccinations should be avoided, unless approved by the prescribing physician.

Before using gemcitabine and docetaxel, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use these drugs. They may be contraindicated for use by those with liver or kidney disease, an active infection, or the herpes zoster virus. These chemotherapy drugs may interact with other medicines, including cyclosporine, ketoconazole, and erythromycin.

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    • Gemcitabine and docetaxel, chemotherapy drugs, can cause temporary hair loss.
      By: cleomiu
      Gemcitabine and docetaxel, chemotherapy drugs, can cause temporary hair loss.