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Home > Mediaroom > Press Releases > 2008 > Oncology Practices Seek to Improve Patient Adherence with New Oral Chemotherapy Drugs

Lori Gardner, Senior Director
Communications & Marketing
301.984.9496 ext. 226

ACCC News Release

For Immediate Release: August 27, 2008

Oncology Practices Seek to Improve Patient Adherence with New Oral Chemotherapy Drugs

Oral Anti-Cancer Drugs Offer Advantages, But Adherence to Schedule and Dosing Is Vital

ROCKVILLE, Md.—In the past almost all chemotherapy for cancer treatment was delivered intravenously. Cancer care providers could monitor and assure that patients adhered to their schedule and correct dosage. Today the treatment landscape has changed.

"When patients take their own oral anti-cancer medications as part of their treatment regimen," said Richard B. Reiling, MD, FACS, past president of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), "they must receive intensive teaching and monitoring—as much or even more than patients receiving intravenous therapy only. Oral chemotherapy is effective only if patients adhere to their administration schedule."

Dr. Reiling is chair of a special panel that will explore the benefits and barriers of oral chemotherapy drugs, as well as the complexity of managing adherence, at ACCC’s 25th Oncology Economics Conference in San Francisco, Calif., Friday, September 19, 2008. The panel will examine how the rapid growth of oral therapies for cancer care is affecting patients, physicians, and nurses.

On the plus side, oral chemotherapy agents are more convenient for most cancer patients. Because they will not require IV access, patients can avoid complications that occur with infusion, such as clotting and infections. Self-administration also means fewer trips to the hospital or physician's office. And there is some evidence that oral agents may have less severe side effects compared with intravenous therapies.

But adherence to treatment depends on many factors beyond the clinician’s control, including the patient's forgetfulness, decision to omit doses, emotional factors, and other priorities. Complex administration schedules and prohibitive costs are also in play.

"Educating cancer care providers about the issues and barriers to adherence is imperative," said Dr. Reiling. "Educated providers can then communicate this important information to their cancer patients." Education should address the dose, frequency, timing of dosing, what to do if a dose is omitted, and side effects.

Involving cancer patients in all aspects of the decision-making process has been shown to increase patient motivation and adherence. Regular follow-up is critical.

The panel moderator is Jodie Thellin Skyberg, Intellogy Health Designs. Panel members include Ranae Dahlberg, RN, BSN, UnitedHealthcare; Eric Nadler, MD, MPP, Texas Oncology, PA; and Karen Nicol, Arizona Oncology.

About the Association of Community Cancer Centers
The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) is the leading advocacy and education organization for the multidisciplinary cancer care team. More than 23,000 cancer care professionals from over 2,000 hospitals and practices nationwide are affiliated with ACCC. It is estimated that 65 percent of the nation's cancer patients are treated by a member of ACCC. Providing a national forum for addressing issues that affect community cancer programs, ACCC is recognized as the premier provider of resources for the entire oncology care team. Our members include medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, cancer program administrators and medical directors, senior hospital executives, practice managers, pharmacists, oncology nurses, radiation therapists, social workers, and cancer program data managers. For more information, visit ACCC's website at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and read our blog, ACCCBuzz.

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