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All about: fluorouracil injection

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Generic Name: fluorouracil (injection) (flore oh YER a sill)
Brand Names: Adrucil

What is fluorouracil?

Fluorouracil is a cancer (antineoplastic) medication. Fluorouracil interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body.

Fluorouracil is used in the treatment of colon, rectum, breast, stomach, and pancreas cancer.

Fluorouracil may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about fluorouracil?

Fluorouracil should only be administered under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider experienced in the use of cancer chemotherapeutic agents.

Serious side effects have been reported with the use of fluorouracil including: allergic reactions (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); decreased bone marrow function and blood problems (extreme fatigue; easy bruising or bleeding; black, bloody or tarry stools; fever or chills; or signs of infection); sores in the mouth or throat; severe vomiting or diarrhea; and others. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects from treatment with fluorouracil.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking fluorouracil?

Do not use fluorouracil without first talking to your doctor if you have
  • have liver disease;
  • have kidney disease;
  • have an infection;

  • are in a poor nutritional state;

  • have had previous radiation to the pelvic area;

  • have had previous treatment with another chemotherapy medicine; or

  • have poor bone marrow function.

The use of fluorouracil may be dangerous if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Fluorouracil is in the FDA pregnancy category D. This means that it is known to be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not use fluorouracil without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment. Discuss with your doctor the appropriate use of birth control during treatment with fluorouracil. It is not known whether fluorouracil passes into breast milk. Do not take fluorouracil without first talking to your doctor if you are breast feeding a baby.

How should I use fluorouracil?

Fluorouracil should only be administered under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider experienced in the use of cancer chemotherapeutic agents.

Your doctor will determine the correct amount and frequency of treatment with fluorouracil depending upon the type of cancer being treated and other factors. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding the treatment schedule.

Your doctor may want to admit you to the hospital for your first dose or doses of fluorouracil to monitor you for any reaction.

Your doctor will probably want you to have regularly scheduled blood tests and other medical evaluations during treatment with fluorouracil to monitor progress and side effects.

Your healthcare provider will store fluorouracil as directed by the manufacturer. If you are storing fluorouracil at home, follow the directions provided by your healthcare provider.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you miss a dose of fluorouracil.

What happens if I overdose?

If for any reason an overdose of fluorouracil is suspected, seek emergency medical attention or contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Symptoms of a fluorouracil overdose tend to be similar to side effects caused by the medication, although often more severe.

What should I avoid while using fluorouracil?

Fluorouracil can lower the activity of your immune system making you susceptible to infections. Avoid contact with people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses and do not receive vaccines that contain live strains of a virus (e.g., live oral polio vaccine) during treatment with fluorouracil. In addition, avoid contact with individuals who have recently been vaccinated with a live vaccine. There is a chance that the virus can be passed on to you.

Fluorouracil side effects

If you experience any of the following serious side effects from fluorouracil, contact your doctor immediately:

  • an allergic reaction (including difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);

  • decreased bone marrow function and blood problems (extreme fatigue; easy bruising or bleeding; black, bloody or tarry stools; or fever, chills, or signs of infection);

  • hand-foot syndrome (tingling, pain, redness, swelling or tenderness of the hands and feet);

  • severe vomiting;

  • diarrhea, frequent bowel movements or watery stools; or

  • sores in the mouth or throat; or

  • stomach pain or heartburn or black, bloody or tarry stools.

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue taking fluorouracil and talk to your doctor if you experience:

  • mild to moderate nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite;

  • balance problems;

  • confusion;

  • rash and itching; or

  • temporary hair loss.

Other side effects have also been reported. Discuss with your doctor any side effect that occurs during treatment with fluorouracil.

What other drugs will affect fluorouracil?

Do not receive "live" vaccines during treatment with fluorouracil. Administration of a live vaccine may be dangerous during treatment with fluorouracil.

Before taking fluorouracil, tell your doctor if you are taking leucovorin calcium (Wellcovorin, others). You may not be able to take fluorouracil, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment.

Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with fluorouracil. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products, during treatment with fluorouracil.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your healthcare provider may have additional information about fluorouracil that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Fluorouracil is available with a prescription under the brand name Adrucil. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 1.04. Revision Date: 2/13/04 3:59:15 PM.

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