Fluorouracil is used to treat cancer of the breast, colon, head and neck, pancreas, rectum and stomach.
Fluorouracil reduces the size of the tumour by stopping cancer cells from growing.
It may be used on its own or together with other cancer medicines.
Take Fluorouracil exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.
Follow your doctor's instructions carefully. Do not stop taking this medicine unless your doctor has advised you to do so.
Fluorouracil solution may be taken orally mixed with water, grape juice or any soft drink. Generally, it is best that you take the solution undiluted followed by a thorough rinsing of your mouth. You may rinse your mouth with a soft drink after taking Fluorouracil.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule. Ask your doctor about what you should do if you miss a dose.
DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.
Remember to take your medicine regularly. Fluorouracil must be taken exactly as directed by your doctor in order for it to be effective in treating your cancer. If you often forget to take your medicine, inform your doctor or pharmacist.
Do not take Fluorouracil if you are pregnant or planning to have a baby soon. If you become pregnant while being treated with Fluorouracil, alert your doctor immediately. Fluorouracil may cause harm to your unborn child. Avoid pregnancy during and for 1 month after stopping treatment. Both men and women must use proven birth control methods while being treated with Fluorouracil. You may wish to discuss birth control methods with your doctor.
Alert your doctor if you are breastfeeding. Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with Fluorouracil.
Alert your doctor if you have been told that your body does not have the enzyme DPD (dihydropyridimidine dehydrogenase).
Alert your doctor immediately if you ever had an allergic reaction with another cancer medicine called capecitabine. Fluorouracil may not be suitable for you if you ever had an allergic reaction to capecitabine.
Alert your doctor if you have liver, kidney or heart disease.
For as long as you are being treated with Fluorouracil, you will need to have regular blood tests to check your body's response to the medicine. Your doctor will advise you about how often you will need to have the blood tests.
Do not have any vaccinations without first asking your doctor.
Fluorouracil will cause the level of your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to drop.
Red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrients around your body. When the level of red blood cells fall, you may often feel tired and weak.
White blood cells help your body to fight infections. When the level of your white blood cells drops, it 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. When the level of your platelets drops, you may be at risk of bleeding more than usual. Do not participate in activities in which you may fall or get injured, such as contact sports. Alert your doctor if you get any unusual bruising (large bruises or several bruises) or bleeding that takes a long time to stop (for example, too much bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth).
Common side effects with Fluorouracil include diarrhoea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, mouth or tongue ulcers, loss of appetite, headache and tiredness. Your hair may also become thin, dry and brittle.
You may also develop a condition known as the "hand and foot syndrome" where you feel numbness, tingling, pain, redness and swelling in the palms of your hand and soles of your feet.
Contact your doctor immediately if you develop any of these symptoms:
- severe diarrhoea (more than 4 times in a day)
- severe vomiting (more than 1 episode in a day)
- severe "hand and foot syndrome" which prevents you from carrying out your daily activities
- several mouth or tongue ulcers
- poor appetite or a total loss of appetite
- a fever of 38 °C (100.5°F) or higher
Fluorouracil may also cause your skin to become more sensitive to the sun. Avoid direct exposure to the sun.
Fluorouracil may increase the effect of blood-thinning medicines such as warfarin. Your doctor will need to check your blood levels more often and adjust the dose of your blood-thinning medicine if needed.
Alert your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, for example:
- epilepsy medicines such as phenytoin
- antacids which contain aluminum hydroxide or magnesium hydroxide
- folic acid
- a cancer medicine called leucovorin
Always inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics, 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 or expired solution to the clinic, hospital or pharmacy for disposal. Do not throw it away in the normal household waste.