Taking Oral Chemotherapy at Home

Last Modified: December 29, 2014

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Your physician has prescribed a cancer treatment that you will take by mouth. It may be in the form of a pill, capsule, tablet or liquid. It is important to remember that oral chemotherapy can be just as toxic as when given in a vein and it is important to follow some safety precautions. This article will provide tips to keep you, your caregiver and family safe.

  • It is very important that you take your medication as scheduled. Missed doses, taking the wrong amount or taking the medication incorrectly can make the treatment less effective.

  • Swallow your medication whole. Do not chew, break or open capsules. If you are unable to swallow the medication, talk to your nurse or pharmacist about other ways you can take the medication.

  • Take your dose at about the same time each day.

  • Wash your hands before and after taking your medication.

  • Always double and triple-check the dose before taking. You may need to take more than one pill or combine pills of different strengths to make the dose you need.

  • If you miss a dose, follow the instructions below from your team. Do not take a double dose unless you are told to do so. Contact your oncology team if you miss a dose for further instructions.

  • Store your medication in the original, labeled container at room temperature and in a dry location (Unless otherwise directed by your HCP or Pharmacist). Keep containers out of reach of children and pets.

  • If a caregiver prepares your dose for you, they should either wear gloves or pour the pills directly from their container into the cap or a small cup to hand to you. They should avoid touching the pills. They should always wash their hands before and after giving you the medication. Pregnant or nursing women should not prepare the dose for you.

  • If you vomit after taking the dose, call your oncology team for instructions.

  • Return any unused medication to your oncology clinic for disposal. Do not flush down the toilet or throw in the trash.

  • Read Home Safety for Patients Receiving Chemotherapy for information about safety while receiving chemotherapy.

Specific Instructions for My Treatment [Print PDF]

Medication name & dose

When to take

Start Date

Stop Date














Instructions for anti-nausea medications:




Special instructions (take with/without food, foods to avoid, etc.):




Contact your oncology team at number below if you develop any unexpected/uncontrolled side effects.

Physician / Nurse Practitioner:

Contact number:


After hours contact instructions:




Next Appointment:

ASCO: Session Addresses Oral Chemotherapy Compliance

Apr 1, 2015 - New strategies are needed to help cancer patients adhere to their oral chemotherapy regimens, according to "Compliance and Cost: Bitter Pills to Swallow in the Era of Oral Cancer Treatment," a session presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from May 29 to June 2 in Orlando, Fla.

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