Cancer treatment can mean long and recurring inpatient hospital stays. Even with outpatient cancer therapy, patients have to go to the hospital or to an oncology practice to have their medication administered. In some cases, however, there is another way: Some cancers can now be treated with tablets or capsules – infusions with medication are no longer necessary. For patients, this means more flexibility and less time in the hospital or doctor’s office.
Like all forms of treatment, oral cancer therapy can also have side effects. Correct intake and close coordination with the doctor on questions, problems and other medications taken are crucial for the success of the therapy. In particular, the patient’s own responsibility plays a major role. When used properly, oral cancer drugs can make cancer treatment easier and more convenient for patients.
Oral cancer therapy: These forms of therapy already exist
- Oral chemotherapy, For example, in the case of colon cancer
- Oral hormone therapy, especially for breast and prostate cancer
- Oral targeted therapy, For lung and renal cell cancers, among others, as well as some blood and lymph node cancers
More time at home, better quality of life: these are the advantages of oral cancer therapy
For patients, the biggest advantage of oral cancer therapy is that it can be done at home, minimizing time spent in a hospital or doctor’s office. One is more mobile and can therefore spend more time in his familiar surroundings with friends and family. One’s life remains more flexible and revolves less around hospitalizations. This allows patients to retain much of their quality of life.
From a medical point of view, the treatment of cancer with tablets also has the further advantage that some cancer therapies work better in oral form. But the reverse is also true: some drugs only work if they are administered as infusions and cannot be taken as tablets.
Regular checks and correct intake: this is important when administering cancer drugs orally
The prerequisite for oral administration of cancer drugs is that the patient takes them very conscientiously. The treating cancer physician explains the possible side effects and is the main contact person for problems and all questions that the patient may have in the course of treatment.
At the beginning of oral cancer therapy, the attending physician will usually want to see the patient at one- to two-week intervals to monitor the patient’s tolerance of the therapy. This also includes a blood sample, which provides information about how the body tolerates the drug The patient can discuss with the doctor on this occasion how he is doing with the treatment and whether he has any problems or observes any side effects.
Watch out for food and drugs: These interactions can occur
Oral tumor therapy can lead to interactions with certain foods or other medications. This can weaken the effect of oral cancer therapy or increase side effects.
Therefore, it is especially important that the patient informs the attending physician of all medications that he or she takes regularly or occasionally before beginning therapy, and consults with the attending physician before taking any new medication. This also applies to over-the-counter medications from the pharmacy or drugstore, as well as dietary supplements and herbal remedies.
In addition, there may also be interactions between certain foods and some oral cancer therapies. A well-known example is grapefruit; depending on the cancer drug administered, drug interactions can also occur with other foods. The attending physician provides comprehensive information about possible interactions and gives the patient clear instructions for action that he or she can follow.
Side effects of oral cancer therapy: What you can do in an emergency
Oral tumor therapy does not mean that no side effects may occur or that there will be fewer side effects than when administered by infusion. Since orally administered drugs are absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract, stomach complaints and diarrhea occur more frequently. Skin changes such as acne are also not uncommon. In addition, as with infusion therapy, functional disorders can occur, which can alter kidney, liver and blood values, among other things.
Some side effects must be treated immediately. For this purpose, the patient may be prescribed an "emergency kit" by the attending physician. The cancer patient receives precise information in which case and how to take the medications contained therein.
In any case: If accompanying symptoms occur after taking a new oral cancer medication, the treating physician should be consulted immediately. If medical advice is sought quickly, most side effects can be treated well, quickly and successfully.
- Telephone number of your attending physician
- Your medication plan with all medications, dietary supplements and other preparations you are taking
- Your emergency kit (if you have one) or other medications that are important to you
At the CCCA, patients receive comprehensive advice on the right therapy. An interdisciplinary team of doctors from different specialties works together to develop a treatment recommendation for each individual patient. The patient’s wishes and preferences are also taken into account in this process. If oral therapy is possible and desired, it can of course be administered at CCCA. For this purpose, there is also a consultation hour at the CCCA for patients receiving oral treatment.
Clinics and institutes involved in cancer treatment
Clinic for General, Visceral and Transplant Surgery
Clinic for Anesthesiology and Surgical Intensive Care Medicine
Pharmacy Augsburg University Hospital
Clinic for Dermatology and Allergology
Clinic for Vascular Surgery
Department of Otorhinolaryngology
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
I. Clinic for children and adolescents
II. Clinic for Pediatrics and Adolescents
Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Microbiology
Interdisciplinary Center for Palliative Medicine
I. Medical clinic
II. Medical Clinic
III. Medical Clinic
IV. Medical clinic and emergency room
Section of oral and maxillofacial surgery
Neurological clinic and clinical neurophysiology
Nuclear medicine clinic
Institute of Pathology
Clinic for Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Neuroradiology