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What is fluorouracil?
Fluorouracil is a cancer medication. Fluorouracil interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body.
Fluorouracil is used to treat cancer of the colon, rectum, breast, stomach, or pancreas.
Fluorouracil treats only the symptoms of cancer but does not treat the cancer itself.
Fluorouracil may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about fluorouracil?
You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to fluorouracil, or if you have bone marrow depression, a serious infection, or if you are malnourished or are not receiving proper nutrition.
Before you receive fluorouracil, tell your doctor if you have cancer that has spread to your bone marrow, liver or kidney disease, if you have ever had radiation treatment of your pelvic area, or if you have ever received other cancer medications in the past.
Do not receive fluorouracil without telling your doctor if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
You should not breast-feed a baby while being treated with fluorouracil.
Fluorouracil can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. Avoid being near people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses. Do not receive a live vaccine during your fluorouracil treatment. Contact your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection such as fever, chills, sore throat, flu symptoms, easy bruising or bleeding, mouth sores, or unusual weakness.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving fluorouracil?
You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to fluorouracil, or if you have:
- bone marrow depression
- a serious infection; or
- if you are malnourished or are not receiving proper nutrition.
If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely receive this medication:
- cancer that has spread to your bone marrow
- liver disease
- kidney disease; or
- if you have ever had radiation treatment of your pelvic area.
Tell your doctor about all other cancer medications you have received in the past, especially BiCNU, CeeNU, Cytoxan, DTIC-Dome, Gliadel, Leukeran, Myeleran, Neosar, Temodar, or Zanosar.
FDA pregnancy category D. Do not receive fluorouracil without telling your doctor if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
It is not known whether fluorouracil passes into breast milk. However, you should not breast-feed a baby while being treated with fluorouracil.
How is fluorouracil given?
Fluorouracil is given as an injection through a needle placed into a vein. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting.
Your first dose of fluorouracil will be given in a hospital setting where you can be closely watched in case the medication causes serious side effects.
Fluorouracil injections are usually given daily for 3 or 4 days in a row, and then every other day for another 3 or 4 days. This treatment cycle may be repeated once a month. You may also receive a weekly dose. Follow your doctor's instructions.
How often you need fluorouracil injections will depend on many factors, including side effects and how your body responds to the medication. Try not to miss any appointments for your fluorouracil injections.
Your white blood cell (WBC) counts may need to be checked with a blood test before you receive each fluorouracil dose. This will help your doctor determine whether you can safely receive the injection.
Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when the medicine is injected.
Fluorouracil can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. Contact your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection such as fever, chills, sore throat, flu symptoms, easy bruising or bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding gums), mouth sores, or unusual weakness.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Contact your doctor if you miss an appointment for your fluorouracil injection.
What happens if I overdose?
Since fluorouracil is given by a healthcare professional, an overdose is not likely to occur.
Overdose symptoms may include more severe forms of the side effects that fluorouracil can cause, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood, or any signs of infection (such as fever, chills, sore throat, and mouth sores).
What should I avoid while receiving fluorouracil?
Avoid being near people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses. Contact your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.
Do not receive a "live" vaccine while you are being treated with fluorouracil, and avoid coming into contact with anyone who has recently received a live vaccine. There is a chance that the virus could be passed on to you. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), oral polio, chickenpox (varicella), BCG (Bacillus Calmette and Guérin), and nasal flu vaccine.
What are the possible side effects of fluorouracil?
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
- signs of infection such as fever, chills, sore throat, flu symptoms
- white patches or sores inside your mouth or throat, or on your lips
- pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding gums, or any bleeding that will not stop)
- weakness or fainting
- black, bloody, or tarry stools
- coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
- watery diarrhea, ongoing or severe vomiting
- hand-foot syndrome (tingling, pain, redness, swelling, or tenderness in the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet)
- numbness or tingling anywhere in your body, loss of muscle control; or
- chest pain, sudden weakness on one side of the body, confusion, or problems with vision, speech, or balance.
Less serious side effects may include:
- temporary hair loss
- mild to moderate nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite
- mild, itchy skin rash
- eye dryness, watering, or increased sensitivity to light; or
- temporary loss of your fingernails or toenails.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs will affect fluorouracil?
Tell your doctor about all other cancer medications you are receiving, especially leucovorin (Wellcovorin).
This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with fluorouracil. Tell your doctor about all your prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.
Where can I get more information?
Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about fluorouracil.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2009 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.01. Revision date: 09/02/2009.