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Fluorouracil Injection (Adrucil, 5-FU)

Warning : There are several precautions associated with receiving a fluorouracil injection. It is a potent medication that is used in the treatment of certain kinds of cancer. Due to the nature of the drug, it can have drastic side effects on your body.

 

This drug is not recommended for patients who are pregnant or nursing newborns. This medication can cause harm to unborn babies and the effect of the medicine through breast milk is not known, but could be an unnecessary risk. While taking fluorouracil treatments, you should also take the appropriate steps advised by your doctor to avoid pregnancy.

 

Many patients also experience a risk of severe allergic reactions to this drug. If you have taken fluorouracil before or have an allergy to any of the ingredients in this drug, you should tell your doctor before you begin the treatment.

 

There are many more side effects which may come as a result of receiving a fluorouracil injection. It can cause blood cell disorders and diseases of the bone marrow, which increase your risk of unchecked bleeding, easy bruising, and severe symptoms associated with infection. You should take steps as necessary to avoid some of these side effects, such as not receiving any live vaccines, avoiding cuts or activities that may bruise you.

 

Indications: Fluorouracil is a chemotherapy drug developed for the treatment of several types of cancer, including colon cancer as one of the most common. It is only prescribed by your doctor and will be administered in the doctor’s office.

Fluorouracil is used mainly in the treatment of the following cancers: 

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

Dosage:  Your doctor or other health care professional will give you the medication by injecting a vein with the IV containing this drug. 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.  

Contraindications : fluorouracil should always be taken with care and under a physician’s supervision. You should discuss all of your medical history and current conditions before receiving chemotherapy. If you have experience poor nutrition, blood disorders, decreased kidney function, or several other physical conditions, your doctor should know about these circumstances.

 Fluorouracil may not be recommended to you if you have any of the these medical conditions below: 

  • allergic to fluorouracil or any of its ingredients   
  • Being pregnant or breastfeeding   
  • having potentially serious infection  
  • suffering from malnutrition   
  • impaired bone marrow functions.   

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 : Other medications have been known to interact negatively with the fluorouracil injection.  They can limit the effectiveness of the treatment or they may significantly increase the risk of you experiencing unfavorable side effects. Some medicines that are not recommended to be taken during your fluorouracil treatment are certain antibiotics, blood thinners, and warfarin. However, you should tell your doctor of all the medications you are taking, including over the counter medicines and some herbal products. It is never a good idea for you to try and monitor your own medication schedule by stopping or starting new medicines when undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Tell your doctor about all medications you are taking.

 

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
  • low or high blood pressure
  • 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.