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Oral chemotherapy revolution

Sunday 24 September 2017

Daniel KellyAccording to the World Health Organization, death from cancer is becoming more common in Europe with a 6.6% rise between 2000 and 2015. This is despite improvements in prevention, early detection and cancer treatment. Many cancer patients have also been taking part in a quiet but fundamental shift in cancer therapy, whereby patients take oral chemotherapy at home.

This seems very patient-centric as it means reduced hospital attendance for intravenous infusions, with its associated discomfort and risk of infection. The importance of this revolution in cancer therapy should not be under-estimated as over 25% of the 400 cancer chemotherapy agents in development over recent years were designed to be taken by mouth. But while oral chemotherapy has many positives, it also requires people to adhere closely to prescribed regimens in order to gain maximum treatment efficacy. Patients also need to understand the safety implications and toxicity risks associated with handling these agents (both for themselves and those closest to them).