Lung Cancer

Medication Adherence

The importance of taking treatments on time

Taking the right treatment in the right dose at the right time – every time – is referred to as medication adherence. Whether you are taking oral therapy (pills) or getting intravenous (IV) treatments, you are responsible for taking your treatment just as your doctor intends. Though that may sound simple, it requires serious effort to make it happen.

In the fight against cancer, taking your medication correctly is important because it can influence the effectiveness of the treatment. Most therapies are designed to maintain a specific level of medication in your system for a certain time based on your symptoms, overall health and other factors. If your medications are not taken exactly as prescribed, the consequences can lead to unnecessary side effects, physician visits, hospitalizations and even cancer progression.

Even with the best of intentions, it is easy to forget how important it is to stay on the proper medication schedule. Sometimes life gets in the way, or you may simply not understand the effects of missing a dose or an appointment.

Set yourself up to succeed by using the tools and resources available. Following are suggestions that will help you adhere to your treatment plan:

  • Ask your pharmacist to explain how to take your medications and discuss possible drug interactions.
  • Keep a treatment diary. Track each treatment, including missed doses or appointments, and detail any side effects. If you miss a dose or appointment, let your health care team know so they can determine whether you should make it up immediately or wait until your next scheduled time.
  • Set up reminders for taking your medications and scheduling refills. A reminder can be an alarm on your clock or phone.
  • Try weekly pill organizers to keep track of and organize your medications.