Oral Cancer Medicine

As part of your cancer treatment, you may be given cancer medicine that is taken by mouth.

One type of oral cancer medicine is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is strong medicine used to treat cancer. The term chemotherapy often describes drugs that kill cancer cells. You may hear it called anti-cancer drugs or antineoplastics.

Other oral cancer medicines are:

  • Biologic response modifiers
  • Hormone therapy
  • Monoclonal antibodies

These medicines work in different ways to treat cancer.

What is oral cancer medicine used for?

Cancer medicine is used to:

  • Cure a certain cancer
  • Control tumor growth when a cure is not possible
  • Shrink tumors before surgery or radiation therapy
  • Relieve symptoms such as pain
  • Destroy microscopic cancer cells after surgery (called *adjuvant therapy)

*Microscopic cancer cells may be present after we remove your tumor. We give adjuvant therapy to keep the cancer from coming back.

What is the process for receiving oral cancer medicine?

  1. Your oncologist will fill out a prescription.
  2. An oncology pharmacist will double-check the prescription.
  3. A reimbursement specialist will check your insurance coverage to see if your cancer medicine is covered.
  4. Your insurance company may need a note from your oncologist (prior authorization) before they'll cover it.
  5. A reimbursement specialist will call you to let you know the amount of your co-pay.
  6. If you need financial aid, your reimbursement specialist will help you.
  7. You may need to fill your prescription at another pharmacy.
  8. An oncology nurse will teach you how to take your medicine. Your nurse will coordinate your care while you are on the cancer treatment.

How will I get my cancer medicine?

It depends on which pharmacy you use. Many pharmacies will mail your medicine to your home. You may need to sign for the medicine when it arrives.

Be sure to call your cancer center when you get your first cycle of cancer medicine.

How should I take my cancer medicine?

Your doctor will decide your dose and schedule. Be sure to follow your doctor's orders when you take your cancer medicine.

The amount of chemotherapy you get depends on:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • General health
  • Other health problems
  • Type of cancer being treated

You'll take your cancer medicine by mouth, as a pill or capsule. Do not crush, chew or dissolve your pills. Please call your doctor or nurse if it's hard for you to swallow your pill.

If you a miss a dose, take your next does at your normal scheduled time. Do not take an extra dose or make up for a missed dose. Also, cancer drugs can interact with some foods or medicines. Make sure to give your care team a list of all medicines you take.

Follow-up calls and appointments

It's important to keep your follow-up appointments with your care team.

Please call our cancer center if you have any questions or side effects. Your oncologist may stop your treatment for a while or change your dose if you have side effects.

How do I get a refill?

In most cases, your oncologist will want to see you before refilling your cancer medicine. They'll talk with you about how well you're tolerating your medicine and will review your lab work.

If your doctor gives you a refill, you'll need to call your pharmacy and least five business days before you need your medicine.