Fluorouracil (Adverse effects)

Fluorouracil is a potent antimetabolite used in the treatment of various types of cancer. Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency can markedly increase the risk of toxicity following administration of the standard dose of this drug.

Fluorouracil belongs to the category of chemotherapy drugs called antimetabolites. Antimetabolites are substances very similar to the normal substances found in a cell; when the cells incorporate these substances (antimetabolites) instead of certain normal substances to its cell metabolism, they lose the ability to divide themselves.

Fluorouracil is a drug used in chemotherapy as an antineoplastic. Fundamentally, it is used as a neoadjuvant treatment, adjuvant and palliative for breast cancer, esophagus, stomach, colorectal and liver cancers.

In addition, it is used as a palliative treatment for cancer of the head and neck, bladder, kidney, prostate, cervix, endometrial, ovarian and pancreatic cancers.


Additionally, there may be nausea and vomiting (emetogenic potential at low to medium-low doses) anorexia, diarrhea. No hepatotoxicity.

Rare side effects are: cardiac toxicity (precordial pain, electrocardiogram alterations, cardiac enzyme alterations), neurotoxicity (drowsiness, ataxia, headache), ocular toxicity (conjunctivitis, ectropion), skin toxicity (photosensitivity, scaly dermatitis, skin or nail pigmentation, hand-and-foot syndrome).

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