A Quick Guide to 5-FU and Leucovorin

Posted on: July 31, 2015

5-FU (Fluorouracil) and Leucovorin What it is: A combination of two drugs. Fluorouracil is commonly referred to as 5-FU. It is a chemotherapy drug used to treat many different types of cancer. Most commonly we see it used in colorectal cancer and pancreatic, but it is not limited to just these cancers. 5-FU is commonly combined with leucovorin. Leucovorin is actually a vitamin, a form of folic acid. But it also can make 5-FU more active! Thus, we take advantage of this unique property of leucovorin and add it to 5-FU regimens.   How it is administered: Leucovorin and 5-FU are given intravenously (most commonly) in combination with other drugs, depending on cancer type Very frequently, 5-FU is give over several days continuously. Thus, patients are sent home with a “take-home” pump that delivers the medication. The pumps have traveling cases that can be worn as a fanny-pack or cross body over the shoulder. A common regimen that contains 5-FU and Leucovorin is known as FOLFOX. FOLFOX is an acronym for the regimen that involves patients coming in for their infusion of leucovorin (in addition to another drug) and then going home with the take-home pump for an additional 2 days.   What to expect: Patients commonly experience side effects with this regimen. Managing the symptoms however can drastically improve how well this regimen is tolerated. Some of the most common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, mouth sores, rash, hand-foot syndrome and anemia. Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day helps reduce nausea and vomiting. Avoiding an empty stomach is really essential. Being proactive with anti-nausea medications is also another key factor. Proper nutrition and hydration is especially necessary while on this regimen; this helps with reducing the feelings of fatigue. Maintaining proper dental hygiene can help reduce the prevalence of mouth sores. This includes brushing teeth multiple times per day, flossing, using rinses that prevent dry mouth and seeing your dentist regularly.   As always, contact your doctor if you are not feeling well. Tags: ,