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What information should you gather before you begin oral chemotherapy?
- Your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist will give you instructions for how and when to take your oral chemotherapy. Please follow instructions carefully, and keep them close by for future reference.
- Be familiar with both the trade name and generic name of the drug.
- Understand the dose and frequency of the drug. Always double- and triple-check the dose before taking. You may need to take several pills of different strengths to make the total dose.
- Know the best time of day to take the drug.
- Understand whether you should be taking the drug before or after a meal or snack.
- Review all other medicines or supplements you take with a member of your oncology team. Some medications can interfere with how well the oral chemotherapy works.
- Know what to do if you miss a dose, vomit, or take an extra dose by mistake.
- If you are in a clinical trial, you might have special instructions.
Communicate with your other health care providers. Be sure your primary care physician, dentist, and other caregivers are informed about the oral chemotherapy you are taking.
Prepare for your start date:
- Find out if your oral chemotherapy can be filled at your local pharmacy or ordered by mail.
- Allow enough time for your prescription to be filled, and have it on hand before your intended start date.
- Talk with your oncology team in advance if you have concerns.
Oral chemotherapy can be costly, so:
- Check with your insurance company regarding your coverage and co-payments for oral chemotherapy.
- Learn more about treatment-related medication co-payments by calling Dana-Farber Patient Assistance and Community Resources at 617-632-3301. You may also visit NeedyMeds for help with the cost of medicine.
How do I handle oral chemotherapy safely at home?
Most oral chemotherapy medicine is stored at room temperature, away from heat or moisture. Your doctor or nurse will tell you if your medication needs special storage or handling.
- Keep your medicine in its original container.
- Keep it away from other medications and beyond the reach of children or pets.
- Do not store oral chemotherapy pills in a bathroom with a shower, or on your windowsill.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after you take the pills.
- Do not crush, break, or chew your pills.
- Caregivers should be extra cautious when administering the drug.
- Avoid handling with bare hands.
- Empty pill(s) into cap lid or small plastic cup for dispensing.
- You may wear latex gloves, if contact is unavoidable.
- The only person exposed to the drug should be the patient.
- If you have oral chemotherapy pills left over, please return them to the pharmacy where the prescription was filled.
- Do not flush them down the toilet, pour them in the sink, or throw them away in the trash.
For more information about oral chemotherapy handling, storage and disposal, see Dana-Farber's oral chemotherapy fact sheet.