This commonly prescribed cancer drug was supposed to help save his life, instead it killed him – CBC

Some provinces pre-screen patients at risk of toxic reactions, but experts say tests don’t go far enough

Nov 27, 2023

When Dr. Anil Kapoor was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in January his prognosis was positive, and his family was hopeful treatment would buy him several more years.

But weeks later, the 58-year-old Burlington, Ont., resident was dead — killed not by the cancer, say doctors, but by the commonly prescribed cancer drug Fluorouracil (5-FU) that was supposed to help save his life.

“It was honestly a cruel rollercoaster of emotions,” Anil’s son, Akshay Kapoor, told Go Public. “I just feel like we were robbed of time together.”

5-FU, used since the 1970s to treat many cancers including colorectal, stomach, breast and cervical cancer, can be toxic to certain patients.

Some provinces now pre-screen for genetic variants — differences in people’s DNA — that can lead to serious illness and even death.

But those tests may be giving some cancer patients and their families a false sense of security; failing to flag some of the people who could get sick or die from 5-FU, say experts.

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