Fluorouracil - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Fluorouracil: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is Fluorouracil?

Fluorouracil belongs to a group of chemotherapy drugs called antimetabolites. As an intravenous injection, it is used to treat cancers of the colon, rectum, pancreas, stomach, breast, esophagus, and cervix. Fluorouracil in the form of cream or topical solution is prescribed for skin conditions, such as actinic keratosis, skin warts, and a skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma. Fluorouracil works by slowing the growth of abnormal cells that cause cancer.

What are the uses of Fluorouracil?

Fluorouracil is categorized as an antimetabolite. These are its uses:

  • As a cream or topical solution, it is prescribed for precancerous and cancerous skin growths.
  • It also treats a skin disorder called actinic keratosis characterized by rough, red, scaly patches on the skin. It is caused due to prolonged exposure to sunlight. 
  • Fluorouracil as an intravenous injection is used as chemotherapy to treat cancers of the breast, stomach, pancreas, bladder, rectum, and colon.
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What are the side effects of Fluorouracil?

The side effects of Fluorouracil injection are:

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Hair loss
  • Low blood cells
  • Inflammation in the mouth and skin

Side effects of Fluorouracil cream do not require medical treatment. They are quite manageable and decrease once the therapy is complete. The common side effects are:

  • Skin irritation
  • Photosensitivity 
  • Itchiness
  • Burning Diarrhea
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Watery eyes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Easy bleeding
  • Mouth sores

Inform your doctor immediately if you observe any of these serious side effects:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Itching or swelling of face, tongue, or throat
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Rashes

Doctors weigh the benefits with the risks before prescribing this medication. Therefore, it is important to follow the exact prescription. Please do not discontinue or change the dose without consulting with your doctor. 

Please consult our medical experts at Yashoda Hospitals for the treatment and management of skin cancer. They will provide you with the necessary information on Fluorouracil, its uses, dosages, side effects, and precautions.


Frequently Asked Questions about Fluorouracil

1. Can you put sunscreen over Fluorouracil?

Fluorouracil cream makes the skin sensitive to sunlight, therefore, regular application of sunscreen is crucial. After applying Fluorouracil cream to the affected area, wait for 2 hours before applying sunscreen. Avoid using any other skin creams or lotions. Do not cover the area with tight bandages unless advised by the doctor.

2. Is Capecitabine the same as Fluorouracil?

Capecitabine is also a chemotherapy medication used in the treatment of breast cancer, gastric cancer, and colorectal cancer. It belongs to the fluoropyrimidines class of medications. It produces the same effect as Fluorouracil, but it comes in the form of tablets and is, therefore, convenient to consume as opposed to Fluorouracil injections.

3. What should be used after Fluorouracil?

Applying sunscreen two hours after application of Fluorouracil cream to the affected area is essential as the skin becomes very sensitive to sunlight. Avoid the application of any other skin products, such as creams or lotions. Avoid going outdoors, or wear protective clothing to stay safe from sunlight when outdoors.

4. Can Fluorouracil be used on moles?

Fluorouracil cream is used in the treatment of precancerous and cancerous skin growths. If you have moles on your skin, you need to consult your doctor. They will first determine if the mole is cancerous and then prescribe the right treatment for its removal.

5. Can Fluorouracil cause cancer?

As per reports, a patient with actinic keratoses was treated with topical Fluorouracil on the face, neck, and forearms. He developed fatigue, fever, and mouth sores in a few days and was diagnosed with cancer due to dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency. People with DPD are at a higher risk of toxic reactions to drugs used to treat cancers.

6. Can Fluorouracil cream make you tired?

Some patients using Fluorouracil cream for treating actinic keratosis complain of fatigue and lethargy that lasts for a few days. Some patients also complain of irritability. However, these side effects clear within days of discontinuing the treatment once the skin begins to heal.

7. Does Fluorouracil cause hair loss?

Fluorouracil cream is used to treat skin conditions, such as actinic keratosis and skin cancer. It is applied topically on the affected area of the skin and is not absorbed into the bloodstream. Hence, it does not cause hair loss. However, Fluorouracil injection used for chemotherapy may cause hair loss. But the hair grows back once the treatment is over.

8. Is Fluorouracil a form of chemotherapy?

Fluorouracil injection is used as chemotherapy to treat several cancers, such as rectal cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, and bladder cancer. It works by killing the fast-growing cancer cells and blocking their growth.

9. Does Fluorouracil cause weight gain?

Fluorouracil intravenous injections used in treating cancers can lead to weight loss. This is caused due to the other side effects of the drug, such as nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite as a result of intense nausea.

10. Is Fluorouracil immunotherapy?

Yes, Fluorouracil in the form of topical solution is effective immunotherapy against actinic keratosis, which is an indication of skin cancer. According to a study, a combination of topical Fluorouracil and Calcipotriol—a synthetic form of vitamin D—offers a strong immune response to precancerous skin lesions.

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Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.