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Oxaliplatin 5 Fluorouracil (5-FU) and folinic acid

Fact sheet about oxaliplatin chemotherapy,

5 fluorouracil (5-FU) and folinic acid


This leaflet provides information about chemotherapy called oxaliplatin, 5 fluorouracil (5-FU) and folinic acid. It will explain what this is and when and how it is given. It will also explain common side effects you may experience. Contact telephone numbers and details of how to get more information about this chemotherapy are given at the end of this leaflet.


This leaflet should be read alongside the ' General information for patients undergoing chemotherapy' leaflet. If you have not received this leaflet, then ask your nurse for a copy.



What is oxaliplatin, 5-FU and folinic acid chemotherapy?

This chemotherapy treatment consists of three drugs. There are two chemotherapy drugs called oxaliplatin and 5-FU. The other drug is called folinic acid. This is not a chemotherapy drug but it helps the 5-FU work better.


Together, the names of these drugs are oxaliplatin and geGramount or OXMdG for short.



Why am I having OxMdG chemotherapy?

Your doctor has given this because it has been shown to be effective in treating your type of cancer.

How often will I have my chemotherapy?

In order for this treatment to be most effective it is given at specific time intervals. These are called cycles. It is usual to have a cycle of OxMdG every two weeks for up to 12 cycles. Your doctor will discuss the exact number of cycles you will have.



How will my chemotherapy treatment be given?

To receive your chemotherapy, a small tube will need to be inserted into a large vein in your upper arm. This tube is called a PICC line. Your PICC line is usually placed about a week before you start your chemotherapy. It will remain in place throughout your treatment. Your doctor will explain this to you in more detail. We also have a leaflet that explains more about PICC lines.


The oxaliplatin and folinic acid will be given to you through a drip over a period of two hours. The drip will be connected to your PICC line.


The 5-FU is given to you in two parts:


  1. First, it is given as an injection into your PICC line. This takes a few minutes.
  2. The second part of your 5-FU is given in a small portable pump.


    • The pump is connected to your central cord
    • The pump fits in a bag ( bumbag ) that you can wear around your waist on a belt
    • The pump is set to evacuate over a period of 46 hours
    • You then need to return for the pump to be disconnected from your central cord.

How do I care for the portable pump?

We will tell you how your pump works and how to look after it. We will also give you written information.



How often will I need to come to the hospital?

To have this chemotherapy, you will need to visit the hospital three times in each two-week cycle.


1st Visit – Appointment at the outpatient clinic

We will take samples of your blood and we will ask how you feel and discuss any problems you may have. We do this so we can see how the chemotherapy affects you. If your blood results are satisfactory, we will give you chemotherapy. This appointment is usually a few days before your chemotherapy appointment.


2nd visit – Chemotherapy appointment

In this appointment, you will spend approximately 4 hours in one of the day case treatment areas. You should allow up to an hour longer for your first visit. We will give you medicine for sickness and your chemotherapy in a drip. You will go home with your portable pump containing 5-FU.


3rd visit – Disconnect the pump

This appointment is two days after your chemotherapy appointment. You will return to one of the day care areas to have your portable pump disconnected. This should take about half an hour.

You are welcome to bring someone to stay with you during your treatment. Space is limited in the waiting areas and the treatment room so there is usually no room for more than one person. Treatment areas are not suitable for small children.



What are the possible side effects?

There are a number of possible side effects that can arise with this chemotherapy. The doctors, nurses and pharmacists can give you advice or answer any questions you may have.


Loss of hair

Most people do not lose their hair with this chemotherapy. However, some patients find that their hair thins somewhat. We have a leaflet that explains more about coping with hair loss. Ask your nurse if you would like a copy.



Nausea and vomiting are rare these days as we give you anti-sickness medication which is usually very effective. If you are ill more than once in 24 hours despite taking regular sickness medication when you are at home after your chemotherapy treatment, contact Velindre Cancer Center for advice. The phone number is on page 8.



Your risk of catching infections is higher as this treatment can reduce your white blood cells which help fight infections. Contact Velindre Cancer Center immediately if you develop any signs of infection, for example, flu-like symptoms or a temperature above 37.5°C. The phone number is on page 8.



You may get diarrhea with this chemotherapy. If this happens, it is important to drink plenty of fluids. Medicine is available to control diarrhoea. If you experience diarrhea four or more times in 24 hours which is higher than what is normal for you, contact Velindre Cancer Center immediately.

The phone number is on page 8.


Fatigue and fatigue

Chemotherapy can make you feel more tired than usual. It is important to listen to your body and rest if you need to, but you should continue to do your normal activities if you feel able to do so. Some people find it beneficial to do light exercise as well as rest.


Sore mouth

Your mouth may be sore or you may notice small ulcers. Follow the advice on looking after your mouth in the general chemotherapy leaflet. Your doctor may give you a mouthwash or medicine to prevent or clear up any infection.


Pain in your hands and feet

You may experience some pain, redness and swelling of your hands or feet. If this happens, we recommend regular use of an unscented cream or tincture. Contact Velindre Cancer Center if your hands or feet are painful.



Damage to the nerves in your hands and feet

Oxaliplatin may cause tingling or numbness in your fingers or toes. 85 – 95% of people experience this to some degree. This is often caused by cold, when you open the fridge or grab a cold drink. You may find it difficult to close buttons or grasp small things.


This usually lasts no more than 7 days between treatments. If you have this problem and it continues for more than 7 days, tell us at your next clinic appointment.


Uncomfortable feeling in your throat

Oxaliplatin causes an unpleasant sensation in the throat in a very small number of patients. This can lead to a feeling of tightness in the throat or being unable to breathe. This will happen at the time of the treatment or within a few hours of the treatment. Cold may cause it so you should avoid very cold drinks for 24 hours after treatment.


Tell your nurse if you experience this during your treatment. If this happens after you leave hospital, contact Velindre Cancer Center immediately. The phone number is on page 8.


The result of other effects

Women sometimes find that chemotherapy affects their periods. They could get heavier, lighter or even stop.


It is important that you do not become pregnant or conceive a child while having chemotherapy as it could harm the baby in the womb.


This chemotherapy can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun. It is best to avoid strong sunlight and you should wear a hat and use sunscreen when in the sun.


Quite rarely, people receiving this chemotherapy may have heart problems such as angina or palpitations. If you want to discuss this further, talk to your doctor.



Manufacturers' patient information leaflets

Copies of the manufacturers' patient information leaflets are available from Velindre Pharmacy, or on the internet at These leaflets give detailed information about individual drugs. We do not routinely distribute them as they do not usually provide information on drug combinations, and they can be difficult to read. However, please ask if you would like a copy.

















Contact telephone numbers


Felindre Cancer Center 029 2061 5888

Ask for the chemotherapy pager if you fall ill at home and need urgent attention at any time of the day or night. For example, you should call if you:

  • Sick more than once in 24 hours
  • With a temperature of 37.5°C or higher
  • With diarrhea
  • Having tightness in your throat or difficulty breathing on the same day as treatment


The Pharmacy Department 029 2061 5888 ext 6223

Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm for inquiries about your medicines


Cancer helpline 0808 808 1010

Tenovus - freephone

Monday – Friday 9am – 4.30pm for general inquiries about cancer




This leaflet has been written by health professionals. The information found in this leaflet is based on evidence. She has been approved by doctors, nurses and patients. It is reviewed and updated annually.


Prepared June 2004

Reviewed May 2010