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Fluorouracil (Adrucil)

How does this medicine work?

Fluorouracil (floor-oh-your-uh-sill) destroys cancer cells in all phases of cell life.

How is it given?

5-FU is given into the vein (IV) in the hospital or clinic. It can also be given by mouth as a liquid. Give it at regular times to keep a steady level in the bloodstream. Your child should be awake and alert when taking any medicine.

___ If using the liquid form, put on gloves and shake well right before using. Draw up the correct amount in the medicine dropper or oral syringe. Give it with a flavored non-citrus drink or water. Wash oral syringe and container right after use. Discard the gloves. Other instructions:



Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

5-FU must be taken on an empty stomach (one hour before or two hours after eating) with only water or non-citrus juice. Early morning is the best time to give it.

Fluorouracil has a bitter taste, so give it with flavored water or a non-citrus drink such as apple juice. Do not use grapefruit, orange, or any other citrus juice, because citrus juices may decrease the amount the body absorbs.

Check with the doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, vitamins, or herbs.

What should I do if a dose is missed?

If one dose is missed, go back to your normal dosing schedule. Never give a double dose.

If your child vomits within 30 minutes after receiving dose by mouth, give it again. If your child vomits after 30 minutes, do not repeat the dose. Call the oncology clinic if more than one dose is missed or vomited.

What are the side effects?


  • low blood cell counts


  • moderate nausea
  • moderate vomiting
  • mouth sores
  • hair loss
  • rash
  • headache


  • diarrhea
  • increased skin pigmentation (especially over the IV site)
  • balance problems
  • liver problems
  • sensitivity to light
  • vision problems

When should I call the clinic?

  • fever, chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • hoarseness
  • mouth sores
  • bleeding
  • unusual bruising
  • skin rash or irritation
  • continued vomiting
  • balance problems
  • vision problems

What else do I need to know?

All caregivers should wear gloves when handling urine, stool, and vomit while your child is receiving the chemotherapy and for 48 hours afterward. Urine, stool, and vomit can be safely disposed of in septic tanks and the sewer system.

Any clothing or bed linens that are contaminated with urine, stool, or vomit should be washed separately from other laundry in hot water and detergent. Anyone handling the contaminated laundry should wear gloves.

Avoid spilling or getting 5-FU on your skin. Clean up spills and wash exposed skin.

Blood samples may be needed to check the effects of the medicine. Blood counts are lowest 9 to 14 days after the medicine is given.

Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.

Prevent sunburn. During treatment and for one year after, your child should wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), a hat, and protective clothing when outdoors.

Your child may be more comfortable outside with sunglasses on.

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. Share this information with anyone involved in your child's care.

Always make sure you have enough medicine on hand. Each time you refill your prescription, check to see how many refills are left. If no refills are left, the pharmacist will need 2 or 3 days to contact the clinic to renew the prescription.

Before giving the first dose, read the label. Be sure it is what was prescribed. After a refill, if the medicine looks different to you, ask your pharmacist or call the oncology clinic before giving it.

Check the label for the expiration date. Bring outdated or extra medicines back to the clinic or pharmacy for disposal. Do not flush them down the toilet or throw them in the garbage.

Store all medicines in the original containers and away from direct sunlight or heat. Do not store in humid places such as the bathroom. Keep medicines out of children's reach, locked up if possible.

If too much or the wrong kind of chemotherapy medicine is taken, call the hematology/oncology clinic right away. If your child is unconscious or has a seizure, call 911.


This sheet is not specific to your child, but provides general information. If you have any questions about your child's condition, please call the oncology clinic or pharmacy.

Last reviewed 8/2015

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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