Fluorouracil Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

5 FU or 5 - Fluorouracil

Definition of Fluorouracil:

Fluorouracil (Adrucil) is an anti-cancer chemotherapy drug. It is a type of antimetabolite -– it inhibits the normal metabolic process of cells, causing them to die when they attempt to divide.

Use For Breast Cancer:

Fluorouracil can be used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs to treat any stage of breast cancer. Also called 5-Fluorouracil or 5-FU, this drug is part of the FAC combination chemo: 5-FU, Adriamycin, and Cytoxan. Many oncologists also use 5-FU as a part of the CMF regimen (Cytoxan, methotrexate, 5-fu).

Other Uses for Fluorouracil:

In addition to breast cancer, the fluid form of Fluorouracil is used to treat:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Colon and rectal cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancers
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Liver cancer

In cream form, Fluorouracil can help treat basal cell skin cancer and actinic keratoses. The cream is called Carac Cream, Efudex Cream, and Fluorouracil Topical Cream.

Also known as:

5 FU - 5-Fluorouracil, Fluorouracil, Adrucil, Efudex, Fluoroplex

How Fluorouracil Works:

Fluorouracil resembles a normal cell nutrient that cancer cells need in order to grow. The cancer cells soak up the fluorouracil, and then it interferes with their growth. When the cancer cells can no longer grow or divide, they die.

How Fluorouracil is Given:

When Fluorouracil is part of your breast cancer treatment, it is given in fluid form as part of your chemotherapy infusion.

Recommendations During Treatment:

  • Use reliable contraception – avoid a pregnancy
  • Don't breastfeed while taking this drug, because it may leach into breast milk
  • Drink lots of fluids, especially water, to flush your kidneys and bladder
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Don’t take aspirin
  • Don’t get vaccinations

Risks of Using Fluorouracil:

  • Allergic reaction to Fluorouracil
  • May harm fetus, if you become pregnant during treatment
  • Possible future infertility
  • Low blood counts, greater danger of infections

Possible Side Effects:

Most patients do not get all of these side effects, but these are quite common:

When to Call Your Doctor:

If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor:

  • Fever of 100.5°F or higher
  • Chest pain (possible heart problems)
  • Pain at your injection site

Self-Care Tips for Fluorouracil Patients:

  • Hold ice chips in your mouth during your infusion to help prevent mouth sores (some patients also rest their hands or fingers in ice during an infusion)
  • Brush your teeth gently with a soft toothbrush and avoid scraping your gums
  • Take your anti-nausea medications on time
  • Stay out of direct sunlight
  • Rest as much as you can
  • Eat a healthy diet including foods that help control diarrhea

U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA Oncology Tools Product Label Details in Conventional Order for fluorouracil, 5-FU.

National Cancer Institute. Drug Information – Fluorouracil. 08/10/2007.

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