Capecitabine Versus Continuous Infusion Fluorouracil for the Treatment of Advanced or Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: a Meta-analysis

  • Zehua Wu
  • Yanhong Deng
Lower Gastrointestinal Cancers (AB Benson, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Lower Gastrointestinal Cancers

Opinion statement

Nowadays, systemic chemotherapy with intravenous (IV) 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) remains the most commonly prescribed treatment for metastatic colorectal cancers (CRC), in combination with other cytotoxic drugs. 5-FU can be administered through a bolus injection or continuous infusion (cIV), with the latter becoming the preferred administration method and standard of care in recent years. Oral fluoropyrimidines were developed to overcome challenges associated with the IV administration of 5-FU, among which capecitabine has become the most widely used one. However, although capecitabine and other oral fluoropyrimidine-based regimens are more convenient to administer, their efficacy and safety in comparison with IV 5-FU are not well understood. Results from recent randomized controlled trials, observational studies, and meta-analyses have been inconsistent. Safety, in particular, remains controversial. Our review, a first comprehensive meta-analysis comparing the efficacy and safety of cIV 5-FU with capecitabine, the two most widely used fluorouracil modalities in CRC, showed that cIV 5-FU-based regimens are associated with greater response rates compared with capecitabine-based regimens, with no difference in progression-free survival, time to treatment failure, overall survival, or disease-free survival between the two. Furthermore, cIV 5-FU-based regimens showed an improved safety profile compared with capecitabine-based regimens. Our findings suggest that cIV 5-FU remains a more effective and safer modality of fluorouracil administration than capecitabine, thus providing supporting evidence to guide clinical practice in the management of colorectal cancer.


Capecitabine Fluorouracil infusion Colorectal cancer Meta-analysis 



Writing assistance was provided by Sarah Keyrouz, from Mudskipper Business Consulting (Shanghai) Limited, funded by Baxter (China) Investment Co, Ltd.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 81472249), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant number 17ykzd25), and Baxter (China) Investment Co, Ltd. Baxter (China) Investment Co, Ltd. supported data collection and analysis. The National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities supported data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare they have conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Oncology Department, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Colorectal and Pelvic Floor DiseasesThe Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen UniversityGuangzhouChina

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