Fluorouracil interferes with how cancer cells grow and divide. It affects all areas of the cell cycle.
Fluorouracil is an intravenous (IV) medicine. It usually is given according to a schedule, such as once a week or once every 3 to 4 weeks, but it may also be given continuously over 4 to 5 days. It also is available as a cream for the treatment of skin cancer.
Why It Is Used
Fluorouracil is used to treat many different types of cancer, such as cancer of the colon, rectum, breast, stomach, and pancreas. It may also be used to treat skin cancer.
How Well It Works
Fluorouracil is an effective cancer treatment. But the type of cancer you have and how widespread it is in your body affect how well this medicine slows or stops cancer growth.
Fluorouracil can cause many side effects. How severe the side effects are depends on how often you are treated and how large a dose of this medicine you receive. Common side effects include:
Mouth sores, a sore throat, and trouble swallowing.
Diarrhea and stomach pain.
Decreased white blood cell counts. Red blood cell counts and platelet counts can also be reduced.
Sun sensitivity and easy sunburning. Be sure to wear hats and sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30, and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
Darkening of nail beds.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.