People with dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency, including those who otherwise exhibit no symptoms, are vulnerable to severe, potentially life-threatening toxic reactions to certain drugs called fluoropyrimidines that are used to treat cancer. Common examples of these drugs are 5-fluorouracil and capecitabine. These drugs are not broken down efficiently by people with dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency and build up to toxic levels in the body (fluoropyrimidine toxicity). Severe inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract (mucositis) may occur, which can lead to signs and symptoms including mouth sores, abdominal pain, bleeding, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Fluoropyrimidine toxicity may also lead to low numbers of white blood cells (neutropenia), which increases the risk of infections. It can also be associated with low numbers of platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia), which impairs blood clotting and may lead to abnormal bleeding (hemorrhage). Redness, swelling, numbness, and peeling of the skin on the palms and soles (hand-foot syndrome); shortness of breath; and hair loss may also occur.
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