by Emily Mackler, Pharm.D., Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program
Understanding Oral Medications for Cancer
Cancer medications taken by mouth may be more convenient and, in some cases, require less
frequent doctor visits than intravenous treatments (infusion). As more is known about how cancers
develop and spread, a growing number of oral medications that target particular pathways
or receptors have been developed.
Oral medications have also been developed to provide patients with a realistic option for
long-term therapy. Oral anticancer medications are an important addition to other cancer treatment
options and have been shown to improve patient survival and quality of life.
Tips for success in taking your oral medication:
- Take it at the same time each day (use a medication chart, pill box, calendar, etc.).
- Contact your oncology provider before starting any new medications (over-the-counter, herbal
- Understand side effects, how to manage them and when to call
a care provider.
- Utilize resources, such as the Patient Education Resource
Center (PERC) and the medication record, to help with questions or
To help patients manage the challenges of oral medications, the
U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center now has a service to help:
Oral Chemotherapy ResourcE:
- manage your medication at home
- identify possible drug interactions
- find resources to help you cover the high cost of oral cancer
- understand your medication through educational materials.
What you need to know
about oral chemotherapy from the American Cancer Society.
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