Survey shows need for oral chemotherapy guidelines
LONDON, Jan 13 (Reuters) Clear, standardised guidelines are needed for giving oral chemotherapy drugs to iron out inconsistencies in how patients are given the drugs and monitored, researchers said today.
A survey of 42 National Cancer Institute-designated treatment centres in the United States revealed that while oral chemotherapy drugs were widely prescribed there were variations in the way they were prescribed, coordinated and monitored.
Ten of the centres that responded reported at least one serious adverse event linked to oral chemotherapy in the past year and 13 had a serious near miss. No details were given.
''The growing availability of effective oral chemotherapy, especially the new class of targeted biologic therapies, is one of the wonderful advances in cancer care, as it has given cancer patients unprecedented convenience compared to intravenous infusion therapy,'' said Dr Lawrence Shulman, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts yesterday.
''However, these findings underline the importance of forging a consensus in the oncology field on standardised safeguards and practices for prescribing and monitoring the use of these drugs,'' he added in a statement.
The survey conducted by the institute and published online by the British Medical Journal revealed inconsistencies in prescribing the treatment and recording the dosage.
Many centres had no formal system for monitoring patients taking the drugs which are becoming increasingly popular internationally.
''Given how quickly oral chemotherapies have become standard care for a growing number of cancers, we were not surprised to find variations in how organisations prescribe and monitor the use of these agents,'' said Dr Saul Weingart, the president of patient safety at Dana-Farber.
''It is surprising, however, that few of the safeguards used with infusion chemotherapy have been adopted for oral chemotherapy.'' REUTERS SY KP0955