How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Fluorouracil belongs to a group of medications called antineoplastics. It is used topically to treat a type of skin cancer known as superficial basal cell carcinoma. It is also used to treat actinic keratosis, a skin condition that may lead to skin cancer. It works by killing the abnormal cells that are causing the cancer or skin condition.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Each gram of cream contains fluorouracil 5% in a vanishing base. Nonmedicinal ingredients: methylparaben, polysorbate 60, propylene glycol, propylparaben, stearyl alcohol, and white petrolatum.
How should I use this medication?
Wash the area to be treated with soap and water, then dry the area thoroughly. Apply the cream to the affected area twice a day with a nonmetal applicator (e.g., a cotton swab) or while wearing a suitable glove. Apply a thin layer, enough to cover the entire affected area of the skin. If fingertips are used to apply, wash your hands well with soap and water immediately afterwards.
Avoid contact with the eyes, eyelids, corners of the nose and mouth, easily irritated areas, or other areas where treatment is not intended. If you apply the medication near the eyes, nose, or mouth, take care to avoid getting the medication in these sensitive areas.
This medication will cause the skin to become severely inflamed and irritated, but continue to use it for the length of time recommended by your doctor, usually for 2 to 4 weeks. Complete healing of the treated area may take 1 to 2 months after stopping treatment. If the area becomes severely irritated, contact your doctor.
Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, apply it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If more than a few hours have passed, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, or you have missed more than one dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication at room temperature and protect it from light, heat, and moisture. Keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not take this medication if you:
- are allergic to fluorouracil, or any ingredients of the medication
- are pregnant or breast-feeding
- have dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency (DPD), an enzyme deficiency
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who uses this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people using this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- difficulty sleeping
- effects where the cream is applied
- peeling or scaling
- skin discoloration
- tenderness or soreness
- medicinal taste in your mouth
- sensitivity to the sun
- sores around the mouth
- watery eyes
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- eye irritation or swelling
- rash or severe itching at the application site or other area of the body
- redness and swelling of normal skin
- signs of clotting problems (e.g., unusual nosebleeds, bruising, blood in urine, coughing blood, bleeding gums, cuts that don't stop bleeding)
- weight loss
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Covering the affected area: Applying this cream and then covering it with a dressing that doesn't allow air to contact the skin may increase skin irritation caused by this medication. If you are unsure whether to cover the affected area, call your doctor for advice.
Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency: The enzyme dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase breaks down fluorouracil in the body. This medication should not be used by people with a known DPD deficiency since accumulation of fluorouracil can result in severe side effects.
Sunlight exposure: Fluorouracil may increase your sensitivity to the sun. Prolonged exposure to sunlight, sunlamps, wind, and cold should be avoided during treatment as these may cause more irritation. If you cannot avoid exposure to sunlight, use sunscreen products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and wear protective clothing over treated areas if possible. The sunscreen should be reapplied after swimming. If sunburn occurs, stop using the medication and call your doctor for advice.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if fluorouracil passes into breast milk. If you are breast-feeding and are using this medication, it may affect your baby. This medication is not recommended for use while breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between fluorouracil and any of the following:
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/drug/getdrug/Efudex