This interesting article was published online in Cancer Therapy Advisor, and talks about the reasons patients don’t take their cancer medications and novel means to tackle the problem.

It is reported that anywhere between 20% and 80% of cancer patients don’t take their medication properly. There are many reasons for this; psychological and physical, high costs or toxic side effects. And the problem is getting bigger as more and more drugs become available orally and are taken at home.

In America, it is estimated that about one-quarter to one-third of non-compliance is due to the cost of the medication or resource issues, such as not having easy access to the medication at a pharmacy; one-third is due to side effects of the medications; and one-third is due to forgetfulness.

Possible adherence solutions include a ‘smart pill’ which senses when it has been swallowed and communicates with an app on the patient’s phone if they miss a pill. Others include pill bottles that encourage compliance and telephone-base monitoring by a nurse or pharmacist.

However, there is not yet enough research on the most effective ways to influence patient behaviour, and most likely the best solution will be to use multiple approaches and tailor them to each patient’s needs. For example, a patient aged 85 years who struggles to remember to take their pills and to open the pill bottle will need a different solution than a teenager who just wants to lead a normal life.

Read more in Cancer Therapy Advisor here