Fluorouracil in colorectal cancer--a tale of two drugs: implications for biochemical modulation

J Clin Oncol. 1997 Jan;15(1):368-81. doi: 10.1200/JCO.1997.15.1.368.


Purpose: To determine if fluorouracil (FUra) has different mechanisms of action as a function of the dose schedule used.

Design: The preclinical and clinical literature relating toxicity and antitumor effects of FUra as a function of its dose schedule, with and without modulating agents, was reviewed.

Results: The data support the hypothesis that FUra may be considered to be two different drugs, depending on its dose schedule (bolus v continuous infusion [CI]).

Conclusion: These results suggest that additional therapeutic benefit may be obtained from FUra regimens by (1) appropriate schedule-dependent modulation, (2) the sequential or alternating use of cycles of bolus followed by cycles of CI FUra appropriately modulated, or (3) hybrid regimens, ie, those that contain both pulse and CI schedules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidotes / administration & dosage
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage*
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage*
  • Fluorouracil / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intra-Arterial
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Leucovorin / administration & dosage
  • Methotrexate / administration & dosage
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Antidotes
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Leucovorin
  • Fluorouracil
  • Methotrexate