Gemcitabine is a cancer (antineoplastic) medication. Gemcitabine interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body. Gemcitabine belongs to a general group of chemotherapy drugs known as antimetabolites. It is used to treat pancreatic cancer, breast cancer (along with paclitaxel), and lung cancer (along with cisplatin), and may be used for other cancers as well.
Gemcitabine prevents cells from making DNA and RNA by interfering with the synthesis of nucleic acids. This stops the growth of cancer cells, causing the cells to die. Gemcitabine is activated within cells to the active molecules. It is incorporated into DNA terminating the DNA strand. Most activity occurs in the S phase of the cell cycle. Gemcitabine can also be incorporated into RNA, interfering with intracellular proteins.