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What Is Fluorouracil Cream?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Fluorouracil cream is a topical chemotherapy drug that is used to treat the lesions caused by certain forms of skin cancer. This medication works by preventing cell division and growth, thus killing the cancerous tissue associated with skin cancer. Some of the possible side effects of fluorouracil cream include skin irritation, increased sensitivity to the sun, or changes in the color of the skin. More serious potential side effects of this medication include abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting. Any individualized questions or concerns about the use of fluorouracil cream or the possible side effects should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Types of skin cancer that may be treated with fluorouracil cream include basal cell carcinoma, solar keratosis, and squamous cell carcinoma. This drug is primarily used when there are multiple lesions present or when other forms of surgery, such as surgical removal of the cancerous tissue, are not practical. The regular use of fluorouracil cream is thought to affect the genetic makeup of the cancer cells and destroy them before they have a chance to spread to other areas of the body.

In most cases, fluorouracil cream is applied to the affected lesions twice daily, although the instructions provided by the doctor may vary according to the individual situation. It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by the doctor, and the pharmacist is usually able to answer any questions concerning application of the cream. It typically takes several weeks of daily use for the desired results to occur, although experiences may vary.

Many people are able to use fluorouracil cream without experiencing any negative side effects, although any new symptoms that develop after beginning treatment with this medication should be reported to a doctor for further medical evaluation. Increased skin irritation and sensitivity to sunlight are among the most commonly reported side effects of this medication. Mild inflammation is to be expected, but a significant amount of redness or swelling should be reported to the supervising physician.

Severe allergic reactions to fluorouracil cream are relatively rare, although they can be potentially life threatening, especially if emergency medical attention is not obtained right away. Throat or facial swelling, especially if accompanied by chest pain or difficulty breathing, may indicate the development of a severe type of allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. These symptoms should be treated as a medical emergency, as permanent brain damage or even death may occur within a matter of minutes if the oxygen supply to the brain is interrupted.

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