5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) is a liquid, which is administered intravenously (through a drip). Sometimes a vitamin called folinic acid is given at the same time as this helps the chemotherapy drug work better.You will often be given anti-sickness drugs (anti-emetics) at the same time.
Intravenous infusions are given through a thin, short tube (cannula) put into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment. Alternatively, you may have a central line, a portacath or a PICC line inserted just before your treatment starts. These are tubes that give the drugs directly into a large vein in your chest and will stay in place as long as you need them.
The most common side effects are:
- A drop in blood cells
- Mouth Ulcers and/or sore mouth
- Skin changes due to excess production of pigment
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Being or feeling sick
Occasionally, patients will experience:
- Greater sensitivity to sunlight
- Gritty eyes and blurred vision
- Hair thinning (it’s rare for it to completely fall out)
- Chipped, brittle and ridged nails
- Loss of appetite
- If you have had continuous infusions of fluorouracil over a long period you may develop redness and peeling on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet known as palmar-plantar syndrome
- Loss of fertility
- Some women may find their periods stop (amenorrhoea) this is often temporary
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