Intended for healthcare professionals


Prescribing oral chemotherapy

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 22 February 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:376
  1. Sandeep D Parsad, clinical haematology and oncology pharmacist,
  2. Mark J Ratain, Leon O Jacobson professor of medicine
  1. Department of Medicine, Section of Haematology/Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA
  1. sandeep.parsad{at}

    Standardised dosing can improve the safety of prescribing

    The use of oral anticancer agents for the treatment of common malignancies has increased over the past few years. Of about 300 new anticancer agents in development, 20-25% are oral products.1 Many novel “target agents” such as inhibitors of the epidermal growth factor receptor (for example, erlotinib) and the vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (for example, sunitinib and sorafenib) are given orally. Patients prefer oral agents because they are more convenient, allow greater autonomy, and avoid venepuncture and the associated risks of indwelling venous catheters.2

    Despite the advantages of oral anticancer agents, they do pose challenges such as poor compliance, a small but definite risk of unintentional overdose, and a greater risk of drug-drug and drug-food interactions. …

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