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Gemcitabine and cisplatin (GC)

Find out what GC (gemcitabine and cisplatin) chemotherapy is, how you have it and other important information about having GC.

GC is a combination of chemotherapy drugs and is also known as Gemcis or Gemcisplat.

It's made up of the drugs: 

  • gemcitabine (or Gemzar)
  • cisplatin

It is a treatment for:

  • bladder cancer
  • non small cell lung cancer
  • some types of liver and bile duct cancer

How it works

These chemotherapy drugs destroy quickly dividing cells, such as cancer cells.

How you have it

You have these drugs into your bloodstream (intravenously).

Into your bloodstream

You have the treatment through a drip into your arm. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.

You might need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.

When you have it

You usually have GC chemotherapy as cycles of treatment. Each cycle takes 3 or 4 weeks.

You usually have between 4 to 6 cycles of treatment taking from 3 to 6 months. 

The 3 week cycle

Day 1
  • You have gemcitabine as a drip into your bloodstream over 30 minutes
  • You have cisplatin as a drip into your bloodstream over an hour
Day 2 to 7
  • You have no treatment
Day 8
  • You have gemcitabine as a drip into your bloodstream over 30 minutes

You then have no treatment for 2 weeks and the cycle starts again.

The 4 week cycle 

Day 1
  • You have gemcitabine as a drip into your bloodstream over 30 minutes
  • You have cisplatin as a drip into your bloodstream over an hour
Day 2 to 7
  • You have no treatment
Day 8
  • You have gemcitabine as a drip into your bloodstream over 30 minutes
Day 9 to 14
  • You have no treatment
Day 15
  • You have gemcitabine as a drip into your bloodstream over 30 minutes

You then have no treatment for a week until the cycle starts again. 

Tests

You have blood tests before and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Alcohol

Some brands of gemcitabine contain alcohol (equal to half a glass of wine or half a pint of beer) and may make you drowsy or dizzy, especially if you have drunk alcohol. Don't operate machinery or drive if you feel drowsy.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you're having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Fertility

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with these drugs. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.

Breastfeeding

Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drugs may come through in your breast milk.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Immunisations

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for up to 12 months afterwards. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine (as an injection)
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid close contact with people who’ve recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as oral polio or the typhoid vaccine.

This also includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s poo for up to 2 weeks and could make you ill. So, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.

You should also avoid close contact with children who have had the flu vaccine nasal spray if your immune system is severely weakened. 

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Last reviewed: 
22 Jan 2018
  • Electronic Medicines Compendium 
    Accessed January 2018

  • Immunisation against infectious disease: Chapter 6: General contraindications to vaccination

    Public Health England

    First published: March 2013 and regularly updated on the Gov.UK website

  • Gemcitabine and Cisplatin Versus Methotrexate, Vinblastine, Doxorubicin, and Cisplatin in Advanced or Metastatic Bladder Cancer: Results of a Large, Randomized, Multinational, Multicenter, Phase III Study

    H V Maase and others

    Journal of clinical oncology, 2000. Vol 18, number 17, pages 3068-3077

  • Gem-Cisp: Gemcitabine/Cisplatin for advanced or metastatic Biliary Tract Tumours

    South East London NHS Cancer Network, 2010

  • Gemcitabine + Cisplatin Regimen

    Derby Burton local cancer network, 2016

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