While it may be more convenient for cancer medications to be delivered orally, prescription adherence may not necessarily improve, as reported by OncLive. This suggests that patient education brochures may be a useful tool within oncology offices.
According to MedTera Solutions, medication non-adherence costs the American healthcare system $100 bil
lion every year. Cancer patients are not immune to this problem, Peg Esper, M.S.N., R.N., A.O.C.N., A.N.P.B.C., adjunct clinical instructor at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, told the news source.
Generally, oral cancer medications empower patients to take charge of managing their own conditions. This type of regimen may be less intrusive on one's everyday life than having to visit a clinic for drug infusions. Furthermore, clinicians have more control over treatment modifications.
However, because patients are administering their own medications, education is very important. Clinicians need to be sure to cover issues such as side effects and when to seek emergency care.
According to the American Cancer Society, common side effects of oral chemotherapy may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, skin changes, low blood counts and oral sores.
Because patients no longer have to visit clinics for medication infusions, doctors have less oversight of these symptoms, Esper said. It also makes it more likely that patients will not take their medications as prescribed because of issues such as depression, a lack of support or financial concerns.
There are several ways to deal with these problems, according to Esper. Clinicians should recommend more visits before oral regimens begin, providing an opportunity for thorough patient education. This may continue with the help of phone consultations and patient diaries. It may also help for clinicians to prescribe no more than one treatment cycle at a time.