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5-Fluorouracil can cross brain–blood barrier and cause encephalopathy: should we expect the same from capecitabine? A case report on capecitabine-induced central neurotoxicity progressing to coma

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Purpose: Capecitabine is a relatively new oral fluoropyrimidine currently licensed for the treatment of colorectal and breast cancer. Results: It has the advantage of oral administration with good tolerability and comparable activity to intravenous 5-fluorouracil. Central neurotoxicity has been described in 5-fluorouracil-treated patients but there is little data regarding capecitabine. We report here a case of reversible capecitabine-induced encephalopathy progressing to coma. Discussion: Literature on fluoropyrimidine-related neurotoxicity will also be reviewed and possible mechanisms of the drug or its metabolites crossing the blood–brain barrier will be discussed.

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Correspondence to D. Cunningham.

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Formica, V., Leary, A., Cunningham, D. et al. 5-Fluorouracil can cross brain–blood barrier and cause encephalopathy: should we expect the same from capecitabine? A case report on capecitabine-induced central neurotoxicity progressing to coma. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 58, 276–278 (2006).

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