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What is Floxuridine?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Floxuridine is a chemotherapy medication, usually only taken in intravenous (IV) form. Most often, this particular drug is utilized for treating cancer in the colorectal area or other parts of the digestive system if cancer has also spread to the liver. Its principal object is to help slow down cancer growth and stop cancer from metastasizing (spreading) to other parts of the body. It may be used with other chemotherapy agents, depending on the type of cancer and the patient’s complete diagnosis.

Scientists developed floxuridine in the 1970s, and the medication continues to be a popular chemotherapy medication. It isn’t appropriate for all forms of cancer or when people have other medical conditions. Even though it’s meant to treat cancer spreading to the liver from the digestive tract, it’s not recommended if people have other forms of active liver disease. The drug may also be contraindicated if people have kidney disease, are pregnant, have had previous radiation therapy of the pelvis, or have had chemotherapy of other types in the past. Also, those with active infections cannot receive floxuridine because of its negative effects on the immune system.

The basic side effects of floxuridine are similar to side effects from other chemotherapy medications. People can develop mouth sores, have nausea and vomiting, experience hair loss, notice some issues with balancing or with mental confusion, and they may develop a rash. Anyone on chemotherapy needs to be very careful about coming into contact with actively ill people, and those taking this medicine shouldn’t receive any type of vaccine that contains a live virus because the immune system is vulnerable.

More serious side effects of floxuridine do develop in a small percentage of people, and these need to be brought to the attention of doctors immediately. Any indication of developing an infection such as fever or chills requires immediate care. Similarly, severe mouth sores, vomiting blood, black stools, vomiting that won’t stop, or pain in the stomach and heartburn could suggest serious complications.

Some patients taking floxuridine also have an allergic reaction to it that could include hives and difficulty breathing. Typically, these reactions are caught while the drug is being administered. Sometimes a serious allergy can be delayed and doesn’t occur until after patients have left the facility where they receive the drug.

The serious side effects of floxuridine, and even its minor ones, are like most drugs that make up chemotherapy regimens. They are challenging and a threat to health. The greater threat to health is the cancer they treat, which may be fatal or spread faster without intervention. While all medical professionals wish chemotherapy drugs operated without their burden of side effects, they are still worth using because they fight cancer.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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