5-Fluorouracil or 5-FU (Adrucil)

The Basics:

Approved in 1962, 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU or Adrucil) is a chemotherapy drug for colorectal, skin, and breast cancers. It stops cancer cell growth by disrupting their DNA and RNA production. Your doctor would generally prescribe you the drug if you have normal dipyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) activity It is injected into the vein by a doctor in a medical facility.  

The most common (≥ 25%) side effects of Adrucil are heart problems, neural problems, diarrhea, and skin changes. No fluorouracil dose has been proven safe in patients with absent Dipyrimidine Dehydrogenase (which is an enzyme used in the breakdown of 5-fluorouracil) activity. In severe cases, the drug may also cause heart failure and neural problems.

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Make sure you read the IMPORTANT WARNING section at the end of this article.

How should I take 5-Fluorouracil (Adrucil)?

Patient getting IV chemotherapy

Fluorouracil injection comes as a solution (liquid) to be given into a vein by a doctor or nurse. The length of treatment depends on the types of drugs you are taking, how well your body responds to them, and the type of cancer you have.

Your doctor may need to delay your treatment or change your dose if you experience certain side effects. You should tell your doctor how you feel during your fluorouracil injection treatment. You can help them by tracking your side effects in Ankr.

What are the side effects of 5-Fluorouracil (Adrucil)?

Common side effects

Serious side effects

  • sores in the mouth and throat
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • swelling, pain, redness, or peeling of skin on the palms and soles of the feet
  • fever, chills, sore throat, or other signs of an infection
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • nosebleeds
  • coughing up or vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • pink, red, or dark brown urine
  • red or tarry black bowel movements
  • chest pain

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

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What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking 5-Fluorouracil (Adrucil)

  • tell your doctor about your allergies
  • tell your doctor about other intakes
  • also tell your doctor if you have an infection and about past or current diseases and their treatments.
  • you should not become pregnant or breastfeed while you are receiving fluorouracil injections. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

While you are on 5-Fluorouracil (Adrucil)

  • if you become pregnant while receiving fluorouracil injections, call your doctor. Fluorouracil may harm the fetus.
  • you should avoid unnecessary or prolonged sunlight exposure and wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Fluorouracil may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.

I forgot a dose. What should I do?

Skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

In case of an emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include the following:

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

Brand names

  • Adrucil® 

This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.

Last Revised – 01/16/2024, SG

Fluorouracil injection should be given in a hospital or medical facility under the supervision of a doctor who is experienced in giving chemotherapy medications for cancer. Treatment with fluorouracil injection may cause serious side effects.

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DISCLAIMER: No part of this content constitutes medical advice, opinion, or should be used for medical decision making without consultation with a licenced medical practitioner and under a patient-provider relationship. All information on the website is provided without any claims of accuracy. For full terms and conditions, visit this link. Content curated by the Ankr team.

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