A recent cost comparison study has revealed that there is not much difference in the cost between intravenous (IV) administration and oral chemo pills. *Parmacoeconomics study by Pierre Fabre. Contact your medical aid and ask them what your benefits are and if you have a co-payment option.
Devon Moodley (Specialist Physician and Oncologist)
In the future, most treatment plans will include oral chemotherapy as it is much more convenient to be treated as an outpatient in the comfort of your own home, particularly during palliative care. Breast cancer treatment is no longer a one-size-fits-all concept and I believe that targeted therapy is the most modern form of treatment available and will become a more popular option as time goes by.
Most medicines will continue to become more personalised and will be administered based on an individual’s genetic make up.
As both IV and oral chemotherapy can have bad side effects every patient must weigh the cost (not monetary value) against its largest benefit – which is time.
Dean Stevens (Oncology Pharmacist, Donald Gordan Hospital)
Besides the convenience factor of not having to sit in a waiting room for hours to have chemotherapy infused, there are many other benefits for patients who opt for oral chemotherapy. However, one should not discount the importance of counseling and spending enough time with these patients to make sure that they understand what their therapy entails. Oral chemotherapy drugs are cytotoxic and can have a myriad of side effects that the patient might have to deal with on their own at home.
Patients who have compromised immune systems do benefit substantially from having oral chemotherapy and not having to come in for a drip as it reduces the risk of picking up infections. It also offers significant cost benefits as patients save money on travelling costs and facility fees. Cancer and the treatment thereof can affect not only the patient but their families too. So a reduction in visits to the oncology centre and less money spent on the crippling costs of chemotherapy infusions can ultimately benefit families as a whole.
Doreen Matli (56, Patient)
Stage 3, Ductal Carcinoma, HER2-, treated at (Arthur Letele State Hospital, Kimberley,) said: “I only have to go into the clinic every three weeks now, in-between I have been prescribed oral chemotherapy. It is an absolute blessing to not have to travel to and from the clinic as often, especially when I am feeling very tired from the various treatments I am on. I feel very privileged to be allowed oral chemotherapy. I don’t have to wait in the very long queues as often and my travelling costs are much lower now.”
Margaret Brown (75, Patient Donald Gordan Hospital)
I have been taking oral chemotherapy for three years and eight months now. Although I am a pensioner with time on my hands, I don’t enjoy sitting in a waiting room for hours, waiting for the IV infusion to finish. The doctor and the pharmacist explained the whole process and possible side effects to me thoroughly, before I started with my treatment. It is such a quick and easy way of treating my cancer. On a Wednesday night, I take my pills before eating dinner. I then watch a bit of TV and go to bed with no disruption to my usual routine. I have been blessed as I have only experienced very mild side effects.