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Fluorouracil Injection (Adrucil, 5-FU) 

 

Brand name: Adrucil®  

 

Generic name:  Fluorouracil  

Other names: 5-FU 

Therapeutic Class: antimetabolite   

Manufacturer / Distributor: Generic  

Availability:  Fluorouracil is available by prescription only   

Indications:  Fluorouracil in used to treat the following cancer:    

  • colon cancer  
  • rectal cancer  
  • breast cancer  
  • stomach cancer  
  • pancreatic cancer  
  • ovarian cancer 
  • cervical cancer 
  • bladder cancer   

Fluorouracil can be used to treat other medical conditions that are not mentioned in this article. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more detail on Fluorouracil.  

Dosage form:  Fluorouracil is given by injection into a vein   

Dosage:  your oncologist will consider your health in general, other medications you are taking, type of cancer you have, and specially your body surface area (BSA). The recommended dose of fluorouracil varies greatly according to these criteria and the response of your body to therapy.  

Fluorouracil is given once a day for 5 consecutive days; the therapy is repeated every 28 days.  In general, fluorouracil is administered as an intravenous injection (into a vein). The injection is done in a hospital or a medical center. The medication must be prepared and administered by specialists in oncology or hematology. Even in absence of serious side effects, a special monitoring during treatment is necessary.  

In some cases, your doctor may indicate another dosage, depending on your medication condition or your body's response to the drug. Whatever dosage prescribed, it is important to follow and complete the treatment as recommended by your doctor. Misusing fluorouracil can lead to serious health problems.  

Overdose:  the fact that fluorouracil is administered in hospital by professionals, the risk of overdose is very low; however, accidental overdose or administrative mistake can happen. An overdose of fluorouracil may cause severe and even fatal health problems. There is no specific treatment for fluorouracil overdose; treatment is symptomatic.   

Missing dose: It is basically difficult to miss a dose if you keep all your doctor’s appointments. Do not neglect your appointment; one missed session or dose of fluorouracil can affect the entire treatment. If for some reason you cannot be present at the hospital for the therapy, contact your health care provider. Do not stay home because you are experience side effects. 

Contraindication : if you fall in any of the categories below, f  luorouracil may not be an option for your medical condition:   

  • patients allergic to fluorouracil or any of its ingredients   
  • women who are pregnant/breastfeeding   
  • patients having potentially serious infection  
  • people suffering from malnutrition   
  • Patients having a decrease in the function of bone marrow.   

Mechanism of action (MOA): Antimetabolites are chemical very similar to normal substances within your cells; they have, however, property to interfere with DNA production.  When used as chemotherapy for cancer, they slow or stop cancer cells and other cells that divide rapidly.  

Interactions:  talk you to your doctor before taking  vitamins or nutritional supplements.  Some medicines may affect the therapeutic effects of fluorouracil, or increase the risk of developing side effects. Consult your doctor before taking the following medicines:  

  • Azathioprine, an immune system inhibitor  
  • Barbiturates,  depressant drug that causes relaxation and sleepiness 
  • Cimetidine  , a drug used to inhibit the production of acid in the stomach 
  • Colchicines  , a medication used to treat pain of gouty arthritis 
  • Live vaccines: BCG vaccine, yellow fever vaccine, etc.   
  • Cyclophosphamide  (Cytoxan, Cytoxan, Neosar, Procytox, Revimmune), a drug used to treat several types of cancers 
  • Celecoxib, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used in the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, painful menstruation, colon and rectum polyps, etc. 

Side effects: while attacking cancer cells,  fluorouracil also affects normal (healthy) cells, which lead to, in certain patients, the following side effects:  

  • hair loss  
  • fatigue   
  • headache  
  • nausea and vomiting  
  • decreased appetite  
  • weight loss   
  • drying or darkening of the skin or nails  
  • sensitivity of skin to sunlight  
  • Tingling in the hands or feet.   

If the side effects above persist for weeks, contact your oncologist. In addition, contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:  

  • fever  
  • chills  
  • persistent cough   
  • bloody diarrhea  
  • severe red skin rash  
  • severe stomach pain 
  • painful urination or red urine  
  • unusual bruising or bleeding  
  • swelling of the feet or legs  
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes