Fluorouracil, 5-FU

Brand Names

Adrucil® (There may be other names for this medication.)

How is Fluorouracil Administered?

Your medication will be given by injection into a vein (intravenous or IV), usually in your arm, wrist, hand or chest.

Why am I Taking Fluorouracil?

This drug treats many types of cancers including cancers of the breast, stomach, pancreas, colon, rectum, esophagus, head and neck, cervix, ovaries, and kidney.

How Does it Work?

Cancers are diseases in which abnormal cells reproduce uncontrollably. Your chemo schedule is based upon:

  • your cancer type and how fast the cancer cells reproduce
  • the phase of the cell cycle when the chemo is most effective — the resting, growing, or reproduction phases

With these factors in mind, your doctors create a chemo schedule to give each medication when it will do the most damage to the cancer cells.

5-FU is in a class of drugs known as antimetabolites, drugs that interrupt the cell cycle. It is similar to a nutrient that cancer cells need to grow. So, the cancer cells take in the 5-FU as if it were food, but once inside the cell, it stops them from reproducing.

Many chemo medications identify and attack cancer cells because they reproduce quickly. Some cells in your body normally reproduce quickly and they are likely to be damaged/destroyed by chemo. These normal cells will eventually grow back and be healthy. During treatment, however, you may experience side effects from chemo’s effects on these cells.

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