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Fluorouracil (injection)

Generic Name: fluorouracil (injection) (FLOOR oh URE a sil)
Brand Name: Adrucil

Medically reviewed by on Sep 28, 2020 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is fluorouracil?

Fluorouracil is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Fluorouracil is used to treat cancer of the colon, rectum, breast, stomach, or pancreas.

Fluorouracil may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not use fluorouracil if you have bone marrow depression, a serious infection, or if you are malnourished or are not receiving proper nutrition.

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive this medicine if you are allergic to fluorouracil, or if you have:

  • bone marrow depression;

  • a serious infection; or

  • if you are malnourished or are not receiving proper nutrition.

To make sure fluorouracil is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • cancer that has spread to your bone marrow;

  • liver disease;

  • kidney disease; or

  • if you have ever had radiation treatment of your pelvic area.

Tell your doctor about all other cancer medications you have received in the past, especially BiCNU, CeeNU, Cytoxan, DTIC-Dome, Gliadel, Leukeran, Myeleran, Neosar, Temodar, or Zanosar.

Do not use fluorouracil if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether fluorouracil passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

How is fluorouracil given?

Fluorouracil is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Your first dose of fluorouracil will be given in a hospital setting where you can be closely watched in case the medication causes serious side effects.

Fluorouracil injections are usually given daily for 3 or 4 days in a row, and then every other day for another 3 or 4 days. This treatment cycle may be repeated once a month. You may also receive a weekly dose. Follow your doctor's instructions.

How often you need fluorouracil injections will depend on many factors, including side effects and how your body responds to the medication. Try not to miss any appointments for your fluorouracil injections.

Fluorouracil can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when the medicine is injected.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you miss an appointment for your fluorouracil injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid while receiving fluorouracil?

Avoid being near people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses. Contact your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using fluorouracil, and avoid coming into contact with anyone who has recently received a live vaccine. There is a chance that the virus could be passed on to you. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.

fluorouracil can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). For at least 48 hours after you receive a dose, avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or other surfaces. Caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient's body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.

Fluorouracil side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • signs of infection such as fever, chills, sore throat, flu symptoms;

  • white patches or sores inside your mouth or throat, or on your lips;

  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding gums, or any bleeding that will not stop);

  • weakness or fainting;

  • bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;

  • coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;

  • watery diarrhea, ongoing or severe vomiting;

  • pain, redness, numbness, and peeling skin on your hands or feet;

  • numbness or tingling anywhere in your body, loss of muscle control; or

  • sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance.

Common side effects may include:

  • temporary hair loss;

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

  • mild, itchy skin rash;

  • eye dryness, watering, or increased sensitivity to light; or

  • temporary loss of your fingernails or toenails.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Fluorouracil dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Colorectal Cancer:

In combination with leucovorin, or in combination with leucovorin and oxaliplatin or irinotecan: 400 mg/m2 by IV bolus on Day 1, followed by 2400 to 3000 mg/m2 as a continuous IV infusion over 46 hours every 2 weeks

When administered in a bolus dosing regimen in combination with leucovorin: 500 mg/m2 by IV bolus on Days 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, and 36 in 8-week cycles; if no toxicity is observed, 3 mg/kg may be administered on days 5, 7, and 9; no therapy is to be administered on days 4, 6, or 8; discontinue at the end of day 9, even with no apparent toxicity

Use: Adenocarcinoma of the colon and rectum

Usual Adult Dose for Breast Cancer:

Administered as a component of a cyclophosphamide-based multidrug regimen: 500 or 600 mg/m2 IV on Days 1 and 8 every 28 days for 6 cycles

Use: Adenocarcinoma of the breast

Usual Adult Dose for Stomach Cancer:

Administered as a component of a platinum-containing multidrug chemotherapy regimen: 200 to 1000 mg/m2 IV as a continuous infusion over 24 hours; the frequency of dosing in each cycle and the length of each cycle will depend on the dose of fluorouracil and the specific regimen administered

Use: Gastric adenocarcinoma

Usual Adult Dose for Pancreatic Cancer:

Administered in combination with leucovorin or as a component of a multidrug chemotherapy regimen that includes leucovorin: 400 mg/m2 by IV bolus on Day 1, followed by 2400 mg/m2 IV as a continuous infusion over 46 hours every 2 weeks

Use: Pancreatic adenocarcinoma

What other drugs will affect fluorouracil?

Tell your doctor about all other cancer medications you are receiving, especially leucovorin.

Other drugs may interact with fluorouracil, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

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.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.