Nature Reviews Cancer 3, 330-338 (May 2003) | doi:10.1038/nrc1074

5-Fluorouracil: mechanisms of action and clinical strategies

Daniel B. Longley1, D. Paul Harkin1 & Patrick G. Johnston1  About the authors


5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) is widely used in the treatment of cancer. Over the past 20 years, increased understanding of the mechanism of action of 5-FU has led to the development of strategies that increase its anticancer activity. Despite these advances, drug resistance remains a significant limitation to the clinical use of 5-FU. Emerging technologies, such as DNA microarray profiling, have the potential to identify novel genes that are involved in mediating resistance to 5-FU. Such target genes might prove to be therapeutically valuable as new targets for chemotherapy, or as predictive biomarkers of response to 5-FU-based chemotherapy.

Author affiliations

  1. Cancer Research Centre, Department of Oncology, Queen's University Belfast, University Floor, Belfast City Hospital, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7AB, Northern Ireland.

Correspondence to: Patrick G. Johnston1 Email:

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