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Another commonly used name is 5-FU.
Fluorouracil ( flure-oh-YOOR-a-sill) belongs to the group of medicines known as antimetabolites. It is used to treat cancer of the colon, rectum, breast, stomach, and pancreas. It may also be used to treat other kinds of cancer, as determined by your doctor.
Fluorouracil interferes with the growth of cancer cells, which are eventually destroyed. Since the growth of normal body cells may also be affected by fluorouracil, other effects will also occur. Some of these may be serious and must be reported to your doctor. Other effects, like hair loss, may not be serious but may cause concern. Some effects may not occur for months or years after the medicine is used.
Before you begin treatment with fluorouracil, you and your doctor should talk about the good this medicine will do as well as the risks of using it.
Fluorouracil is to be administered only by or under the immediate supervision of your doctor. It is available in the following dosage form:
Before Using This Medicine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For fluorouracil, the following should be considered:
Allergies- Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to fluorouracil.
Pregnancy- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or if you intend to have children. There is a chance that this medicine may cause birth defects if either the male or female is receiving it at the time of conception or if it is taken during pregnancy. Fluorouracil has been reported to cause birth defects in mice given doses slightly higher than the human dose. Also, there has been one case of a baby born with several birth defects after the mother received fluorouracil. In addition, many cancer medicines may cause sterility. Although sterility has been reported with this medicine, it is usually only temporary; the possibility should be kept in mind.
Be sure that you have discussed this with your doctor before receiving this medicine. It is best to use some kind of birth control while you are receiving fluorouracil. Tell your doctor right away if you think you have become pregnant while receiving fluorouracil.
Breast-feeding- Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding or if you intend to breast-feed during treatment with this medicine. It is not known whether fluorouracil passes into breast milk. However, because fluorouracil may cause serious side effects, breast-feeding is generally not recommended while you are receiving it.
Children- Although there is no specific information comparing use of fluorouracil in children with use in other age groups, it is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in children than it does in adults.
Older adults- Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults. Although there is no specific information comparing use of fluorouracil in the elderly with use in other age groups, it is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in older people than it does in younger adults.
Other medicines- Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving fluorouracil, it is especially important that your health care professional know if you are taking any of the following:
Other medical problems- The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of fluorouracil. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
Proper Use of This Medicine
This medicine is sometimes given together with certain other medicines. If you are using a combination of medicines, it is important that you receive each one at the proper time. If you are taking some of these medicines by mouth, ask your health care professional to help you plan a way to remember to take them at the right times.
Fluorouracil often causes nausea and vomiting. However, it is very important that you continue to receive the medicine, even if your stomach is upset. Ask your health care professional for ways to lessen these effects.
The dosing of fluorouracil will be different for different patients. The dose that is used may depend on a number of things, including what the medicine is being used for, the patient's weight, and whether or not other medicines are also being taken. If you are receiving fluorouracil at home, follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label . If you have any questions about the proper dose of fluorouracil, ask your doctor.
Precautions While Using This Medicine
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.
While you are being treated with fluorouracil, and after you stop treatment with it, do not have any immunizations (vaccinations) without your doctor's approval . Fluorouracil may lower your body's resistance and there is a chance you might get the infection the immunization is meant to prevent. In addition, other persons living in your household should not take oral polio vaccine since there is a chance they could pass the polio virus on to you. Also, avoid persons who have taken oral polio vaccine within the last several months. Do not get close to them and do not stay in the same room with them for very long. If you cannot take these precautions, you should consider wearing a protective face mask that covers the nose and mouth.
Fluorouracil can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chance of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets, which are necessary for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:
Side Effects of This Medicine
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Also, because of the way these medicines act on the body, there is a chance that they might cause other unwanted effects that may not occur until months or years after the medicine is used. These delayed effects may include certain types of cancer, such as leukemia. Discuss these possible effects with your doctor.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Check with your health care professional as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
This medicine often causes a temporary loss of hair. After treatment with fluorouracil has ended, normal hair growth should return.
After you stop receiving fluorouracil, it may still produce some side effects that need attention. During this period of time, check with your doctor or nurse immediately if you notice any of the following:
Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your health care professional.
Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in product labeling, fluorouracil is used in certain patients with the following medical conditions:
Other than the above information, there is no additional information relating to proper use, precautions, or side effects for these uses.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT