Medication Adherence

Take the right dose at the right time - every time

As a result of the advances made in treatments for many types of blood cancer, an oral therapy (pill) may be an option for you. Though oral therapies offer great convenience, it is critical to understand the importance of taking them exactly the way your doctor instructs. To be fully effective, every dose must be taken with the same kind of accuracy, precise timing and safety precautions as infusions and injections for as long as prescribed. This is known as medication adherence.

Medication adherence is important because most cancer therapies are designed to maintain a specific level of drugs in your system for a certain time based on your cancer type and stage, your overall health, previous therapies and other factors. If your medications are not taken exactly as prescribed, or if you miss appointments for your IV infusions or injections, the consequences can be serious, even life-threatening.

Even small changes to a treatment regimen can be disruptive. Getting off schedule, missing doses, taking an incorrect dosage or not following the instructions can lead to increased side effects, treatment delays or hospitalization. The most serious consequence is a poor outcome, such as cancer progression or recurrence.

These suggestions can help make it easier for you to stick to your medication schedule:

  • Make sure you fully understand the instructions for how and when to take your medications. Your doctor, nurse and pharmacist are excellent resources to ask.
  • Track each dose, including missed doses.
  • Detail any side effects. 
  • Set up medications in a pill organizer.
  • Use a medication reminder, such as an alarm on your clock or phone, or download a free smartphone app.

Keep the importance of medication adherence top of mind. And, remember, by taking the right dose at the right time, every time, you are taking control of a key part of your cancer treatment.