Lung Cancer

Medication Adherence

Many medications for lung cancer are available as oral therapies (pills). Although oral therapies offer great convenience, they also put the responsibility on the patient for taking them exactly the way the doctor instructs. To be fully effective, every dose must be taken with the same kind of accuracy, precise timing and safety precautions. Taking the right dose at the right time – every time – for as long as prescribed is referred to 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 aren’t 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 your oral therapy regimen can disrupt your treatment. Getting off schedule, missing doses, taking an incorrect dosage or not following the treatment 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.

Set yourself up to succeed by making sure you fully understand instructions for how and when to take your medications. Tracking each dose, including missed doses, and detailing any side effects is crucial.

Various types of medication reminders and organizers are available. You can set an alarm, wear a vibrating wristwatch or download a smartphone app to remind you to take a dose or leave for an appointment.

Remember: You’re not merely taking a pill, you’re taking control of a key part of your cancer treatment.