Symptomatic Cardiotoxicity Associated With 5-fluorouracil

Pharmacotherapy. Jul-Aug 1997;17(4):729-36.


A prospective cohort study was conducted in 35 hospitals with oncology units to determine the incidence of symptomatic cardiotoxicity in patients receiving continuous infusions of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and to identify risk factors that could contribute to the development of 5-FU-associated cardiotoxicity. A sample of 483 patients [197 (41%) women, overall average age +/- SD 60.9 +/- 11.9 yrs] were followed for one cycle of 5-FU infusion. Thirty-eight (7.9%) patients had abrupt termination of the infusion. There were 9 (1.9%) cases of suspected or documented cardiotoxic events. Cardiotoxicity occurred in 7 (3.35%) of 209 patients receiving their first course of 5-FU and in 2 (0.73%) other patients (p=0.044). Based on univariate analysis, the following patient groups were at elevated risk of cardiotoxicity: those with preexisting cardiac disease (RR=6.83, p=0.0023); patients receiving calcium channel blockers (RR=4.75, p=0.014); those receiving nitrates (RR=9.18, p=0.007); and patients receiving concomitant etoposide (RR=10.32, p=0.022). Patients with underlying cardiac disease require close monitoring while receiving continuous infusions of 5-FU. They should be observed for signs and symptoms of cardiotoxicity, and vital signs should be measured frequently. Continued reporting of 5-FU-associated cardiotoxicity is necessary to identify other patients at risk.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Fluorouracil / adverse effects*
  • Heart Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Fluorouracil