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Efudex (Fluorouracil topical, Carac, Fluoroplex, 5-fluorouracil, 5-FU)

 

Warning: With Efudex, applications to the mucous membrane should be avoided because the chances of ulceration and inflammation. There have been cases of miscarriage and a birth defect (ventricular septal defect) when this medication has been used on pregnant women’s mucous membranes.

Occlusion of the skin included with hydration has been shown to increase percutaneous penetration of many topical treatments that have been used for basal cell carcinoma. There are reports of increased inflammation of the adjacent skin while using this medication. Your doctor may allow you to wear gauze for cosmetic reasons.

Indications: This treatment is used on the skin to treat precancerous and cancerous growths. Fluorouracil belongs to a class of medication called anti-metabolites. It works by blocking the growth of abnormal cells that cause the growth.

 

Efudex is, most of the times, used in the treatment of these skin affections: 

  

  • basal cell cancer of the skin
  • actinic keratosis, a skin condition that can lead to skin cancer  
  • Bowen's disease  
  • Genital warts. 

Dosage: Read the patient leaflet your pharmacist provides you before using Efudex. If you have any questions call your doctor or pharmacist.

Before applying this treatment clean your skin and then wait 10 minutes, then apply this medication with a very thin layer to the affected area. Wash your hands after contact, even if you wore gloves.

The area that is treated may become unsightly while using this medication and possibly several weeks after. Do not use tight dressings or plastic bandages and ask your doctor if gauze is ok to use.

Avoid using this medication around any area of your eyes, including the eyelids. If you come in contact with this medication in your eyes, inside the nose or mouth rinse with plenty of water.

Use this medication exactly how your doctor prescribes it. Do not increase your dosage, as your side effects will increase without advances in healing. If your condition does not improve, talk to your doctor about other options.

Missing dose: It is important that you use Efudex exactly as indicated by your physician or pharmacist; in case you forgot to apply the medication, apply the missed dose as soon as you remember it; if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing. Double dose is not recommended.  

Storage: Store Efudex at room temperature and out of reach of children. The drug should not be kept in the light or moisture. After use, do not throw the container in the garbage. For more information on proper disposal of Efudex, talk to your physician or pharmacist.  

Contraindications: Tell your doctor of any allergies you may have, as inactive ingredients in this medication may cause allergic reactions. This medication should not be used if you have a certain enzyme deficiency ( dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase – DPD). Tell your doctor of any skin redness/irritated/open sores on the skin. Sun exposure may increase sun damage while using Efudex. Wait 2 hours after applying this medication before using moisturizer or sunscreen.

Interactions: Your doctor and pharmacist should know any interactions of Efudex. You should always keep a list of all the medications you are on to avoid any possible interactions. Do not stop, start, or change any doses of your treatments without first talking to your doctor.

Efudex is not recommended in the following conditions:  

 

  • allergy to fluorouracil or any of its components  
  • pregnancy 
  • breastfeeding 
  • Efudex can be applied to the skin of infants and children, but under the strict supervision of a physician.   

Side effects: in some patients, Efudex can cause the following skin reactions:

  • rash
  • soreness
  • burning
  • crusting
  • redness
  • discoloration
  • irritation
  • Itching

If the side effects above persist for days or weeks, contact your oncologist. In addition, contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:  

  • fever 
  • chills 
  • vomiting
  • bloody diarrhea 
  • severe red skin rash 
  • Severe stomach pain.