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Chemotherapy: FOLFOX

The Drugs Which Make Up FOLFOX

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FOLFOX is a combination of two chemotherapies and a helper drug:

  • FOL” comes from Folonic Acid, better known as Leucovorin (leu-co-voor-in).  Leucovorin is  the helper drug. It is  a vitamin-like drug which makes another ingredient, 5-FU, more effective by making the effect on the cells longer lasting, usually without worsening the side effects of the other drugs. When Leucovorin is not available, Fusilev is often used as a substitute.
  • F” represents Flourouracil, commonly referred to as 5-FU  (five-flure-oh-YOOR-a-sill). 5-FU is a chemotherapy from the 1950’s which is only effective in the body for a short period of time, somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes. Because it is short acting, 5-FU is administered over a long period of time either by infusion when it is commonly referred to as 5-FU, or in pill form which turns into 5-FU when it makes contact with a tumor . The pill form is known as Capecitabine (Xeloda)],
  • "OX” represents Oxaliplatin. (ox-AL-i-PLA-tin) – a relatively new chemotherapy that is very effective against colorectal cancer cells

FOLFOX is usually administered together with:

  • A steroid to help prevent nausea and vomiting, to reduce swelling, and sometimes to increase appetite,
  • Another anti-nausea medication.  

FOLFOX is administered in several different variations. The variations are described in the section below.  The main difference between the variations is the doses of the three drugs and the ways they are given.

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