[Cardiotoxicity of 5-fluorouracil: report of 6 cases].
ABSTRACT 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a fluoropyrimidine antimetabolite, is widely used in the treatment of cancers of the digestive tract and breast. The clinical cardiotoxicity of 5-FU was first reported in 1975. Adverse cardiac effects include coronary disorders, heart failure and sudden death of suspected cardiac origin. Six new cases are reported, including 5 cases of angina and one of heart failure. The patients, 4 males and 2 females, were 26 to 71 years of age (mean: 56.2). They had no medical history of heart failure, myocardial ischemia or electrocardiographic anomalies prior to 5-FU treatment. Three patients had hypertension of whom one had had type-II diabetes mellitus for the past 20 years. Clinical symptoms included chest pain in 4 patients and heart failure in one, whereas the last patient had ECG changes with no associated clinical symptoms. Clinical symptoms of angina totally disappeared after the cessation of 5-FU administration, but heart failure was alleviated only after the introduction of digitalis, a converting-enzyme inhibitor and a diuretic. It has been estimated that 1.6% of patients treated with 5-FU develop adverse cardiac effects. Patients at greater risk are those with a history of ischemic cardiac disease, thoracic radiotherapy or high-dose 5-FU therapy. The mechanism involved is not clearly elucidated. Spasms of the coronary arteries or toxic inflammation of the myocardium have been suspected. These 6 new cases confirm the potential for cardiotoxicity of 5-FU and the need for careful cardiac monitoring of treated patients.