Efudix cream contains the active ingredient fluorouracil, which is a type of medicine known as a cytotoxic antimetabolite. Fluorouracil is a chemotherapy medicine used to treat cancer. Efudix cream is applied to the skin to treat skin cancer and skin conditions that can develop into cancer (pre-malignant skin lesions).
Cancers form when cells within the body multiply abnormally and uncontrollably. These cells spread, destroying nearby tissues. Fluorouracil works by stopping cancerous and pre-cancerous cells from multiplying. It does this by being incorporated into the cells' genetic material, DNA and RNA. Both DNA and RNA are needed for cells to grow, repair themselves and multiply. Fluorouracil causes problems with the production of DNA and RNA in the cancerous cells and this causes them to grow in an unbalanced way, resulting in the death of the cells.
Fluorouracil cream will cause the area of the skin being treated to become red, blotchy and inflamed. This will probably be followed by some discomfort, skin erosion and eventually, healing. Healing may not be complete until one or two months after you stop using the cream. The cream should not damage normal healthy skin. However, Efudix will treat abnormalities of the skin that were not previously visible to the naked eye, and these abnormalities may become red and inflamed.
If your skin causes you a lot of discomfort during the treatment you should tell your doctor, as this can usually be eased by using a corticosteroid cream.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines while using this one, to make sure that the combination is safe.
Fluorouracil is broken down in the body by an enzyme called dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD). The action of DPD is inhibited by medicines known as antiviral nucleosides, such as brivudine and sorivudine, this may increase the risk of side effects from fluorouracil. People who need to take brivudine and sorivudine for the treatment of shingles or chickenpox should not be stop using Efudix cream.
There are currently no other topical medicines available in the UK that contain only fluorouracil.
Actikerall cream contains fluorouracil in combination with salicyclic acid and is used to treat actinic keratoses.
Fluorouracil is also available as an injection and is used in the chemotherapy treatment of breast and colon cancer.