Fluorouracil is used together with other medicines to treat cancer of the large bowel, breast, stomach and pancreas.
This medicine helps in treating tumour by preventing the growth of cancer cells.
Fluorouracil injection is to be given intravenously (into the vein). It is delivered directly into the bloodstream via the blood vessel.
Your doctor or nurse will administer the injection for you.
The dose of Fluorouracil will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the course of your treatment depending on the type and severity of your condition, effectiveness of the therapy, and your tolerability to this medicine.
Ensure that you keep all appointments with your doctor so that you do not miss any doses. Your doctor also needs to regularly monitor your response to Fluorouracil.
If you miss an appointment or miss an injection, alert your doctor or nurse. A replacement appointment or injection should be given as soon as possible.
Alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- bone marrow depression (a condition in which the blood cells are low) due to previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- history or current infection (e.g. chickenpox)
- severe weakness due to an illness
as Fluorouracil may not be suitable for you.
Some genetic traits may affect an individual’s response to Fluorouracil. Individuals who have a deficiency in the activity of the enzyme dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) may experience severe, or sometimes fatal side effects e.g. diarrhoea, inflammation or ulceration of the mouth, low blood levels. Your doctor may need to perform genetic testing to know if this medicine is suitable for you.
Do not take Fluorouracil if you know that you do not have any activity of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) enzyme.
Do not take this medicine if you are pregnant. If you become pregnant while on Fluorouracil therapy, alert your doctor immediately. This medicine may cause harm to your unborn child.
Men should not father a child while being treated with this medicine. Both men and women must use proven birth control methods during Fluorouracil therapy and for 3 months (in women) or 6 months (in men) after stopping the treatment. You may wish to discuss other reliable methods of birth control with your doctor.
Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with this medicine.
Do not use Fluorouracil with medicines used to treat viral infections, such as brivudine and sorivudine. Avoid vaccinations during treatment or 3 months after treatment with Fluorouracil.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- heart disease
- partial deficiency in the activity of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) enzyme
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
- Pregnancy tests must be done before and after treatment to know if this medicine is suited for you to take.
- Routine tests (e.g. liver and kidney function, blood count) may be done while you are being treated with this medicine.
- If co-administration of warfarin (a blood-thinning medicine) cannot be avoided, a blood test to determine INR (International Normalised Ratio) should be done more often. The INR measures how much time your blood takes to clot.
Your doctor will advise you about how often you will need to have these tests.
Fluorouracil may cause visual changes. If affected, do not drive or take part in any activity in which you need to be alert or need to see clearly.
Other side effects include any of the following: weakness, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, loss of appetite, hair loss and hand-foot syndrome (redness, swelling and pain of the palms of the hand and/or soles of the feet).
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- rashes with peeling of the skin or blistering of the lips, mouth or eyes
- persistent diarrhoea
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- frequent and persistent sore throat with fever
- chest pain
This medicine will cause the level of your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to drop.
Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body. A fall in the level of red blood cells may make you feel tired and worn out.
White blood cells help your body to fight infections. A fall in the level of your white blood cells may put you at higher risk for infections, such as coughs, colds and flu, which may lead to more serious infections. Avoid crowded places and people who are sick. Alert your doctor if you have a fever or a cough or flu that does not go away.
Platelets help your blood to clot when there is a cut in the skin. A fall in the level of your platelets may put you at risk of bleeding more than usual. Do not take part in activities where you may fall or get injured, such as contact sports. Alert your doctor if you get any unusual bruising (large bruises or several bruises, especially if the bruises appeared on their own) or bleeding that takes a long time to stop (for example, too much bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth).
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Do not use this medicine with medicines to treat viral infection e.g. brivudine, sorivudine.
Avoid vaccinations during treatment and within 3 months after treatment with Fluorouracil.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
- blood-thinning medicines e.g. warfarin
- medicines for epilepsy (fits or seizures) e.g. phenytoin
- medicines for gout e.g. allopurinol
- medicine that reduces stomach acid production e.g. cimetidine
- antibiotic e.g. metronidazole
- clozapine (medicine for mood disorder)
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Fluorouracil.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
As Fluorouracil is a cancer medicine, always return any unused medicine to the clinic, hospital or pharmacy for disposal. Do not throw it away in the household waste.