Donna L. Berry, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Director, The Phyllis F. Cantor Center for Nursing Research, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, discusses the challenges and compliance issues that are associated with the use of oral therapies for cancer.
Oral cancer therapies are becoming more common, Berry suggests. Additionally, some of these agents have substantial side effects and because they are taken at home on a regular basis the side effects that occur cannot be observed by the treatment team.
If difficult side effects occur, such as skin rash or diarrhea, many patients may stop taking their medication without first consulting a physician. Inversely, if intolerable side effects do not occur they may take twice the recommended dose with the hope that it will work better. Additionally, if a dose is missed they may take a double dose the next day to compensate.
Inaccurate self-administration is one of the most difficult challenges faced when trying to manage oral cancer treatments.