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Chemotherapy tablets or capsules

Nurse and patients talking about cancer

This page tells you about chemotherapy tablets or capsules. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

You may have chemotherapy tablets or capsules to take at home. They may be all the treatment you need or you may have intravenous drugs as well. The medical or nursing staff will tell you

  • When to take the tablets or capsules
  • How often to take them
  • Whether or not to take them with food
  • How long before or after food you should take them
  • Whether there is anything you shouldn't eat while you are taking them

If you forget to take your tablets, just take the next dose as normal, but let your chemotherapy nurse know.  If you are feeling sick and are unable to take your tablets, contact your chemotherapy nurse or specialist doctor for advice.

Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how to store your tablets or capsules safely at home. Some need to be stored in the fridge others don’t. Keep them away from children and pets.

If you have any unused tablets for any reason, they must be taken back to the pharmacy.

PDF Download symbol You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Having Chemotherapy section.

 

Taking chemo tablets or capsules

You may have chemotherapy tablets or capsules to take at home. They may be all the treatment you need or you may have intravenous drugs as well. The medical or nursing staff will tell you

  • When to take the tablets or capsules
  • How often to take them
  • Whether or not to take them with food
  • How long before or after food you should take them
  • Whether there is anything you shouldn't eat while you are taking them, for example you shouldn't eat grapefruit with some drugs

There is more information about taking medicines in the cancer drugs section

You should touch the tablets as little as possible and wash your hands after touching them. If someone is helping you to take them, they should wear gloves.

If you forget to take your tablets, don't take a double dose the next day. And don't take them for longer than the planned time. Get advice from your doctor on what to do.

If you can't take your tablets as prescribed for any reason, or if you are sick soon after taking your tablets, contact your cancer specialist or chemotherapy nurse for advice.

Chemotherapy is excreted by the body in urine and stool, so flush your toilet each time you use it. 

 

Storing your chemo

Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how to store your tablets or capsules safely at home. Some drugs need to be kept in the fridge and some don't. Wherever you keep your drugs, make sure that children or pets can't get at them. Ideally, they should be kept in a locked cupboard if there are children around.

If you have any unused tablets for any reason, they must be taken back to the pharmacy.

 

Getting information

There is more information about individual drugs and combination regimens in our cancer drugs section. The cancer organisations list also has information about cancer information organisations that offer help and advice. There are also books and booklets about chemotherapy, some of which are free.

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Updated: 15 April 2013