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Oral Chemotherapy


  • Oral chemotherapy (kee-moh-THER-ah-pee) is when you take your chemotherapy by mouth. You may have pills or capsules to take. Your caregiver will tell you how many to take and when to take them. You must follow your caregiver's instructions and use this medicine exactly as prescribed. Oral chemotherapy (also called "chemo") can be taken at home. How long you will need to take your oral chemo will depend on the kind of cancer you have. It will also depend on the type of chemotherapy medicine that is needed to treat you. It also depends on how your body handles the chemo.
  • Your caregiver will decide what kind of chemo you will use, and how you will use it. To use oral chemo, you must be willing and able to assist in your own care. It is also very important that you learn when and how to call your caregiver while you are using oral chemotherapy.



  • Always take your medicine as directed by your caregiver. You may be given many different types of medicine to help with the side effects. If you feel your medicine is not helping or you are having side effects, let your caregiver know.
  • Know how to protect yourself from getting an infection while getting chemo. You should stay away from people who are sick with a cold, the flu or sore throat. You should also stay away from small children who have recently been vaccinated (phonetics) for chicken pox or polio. Stay out of crowds and crowded places. Your caregiver may give you more instructions about protecting yourself from infection.
  • Follow your caregiver's instructions about preventing nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting (throwing up).
  • Follow your caregiver's instructions about decreasing or taking away your pain.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eat a variety of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, breads, dairy products, meat, and fish. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat smaller meals, more often. Eat foods high in protein and calories, such as milk, cheese, and eggs. Always check with your caregiver before starting a new diet. Ask your caregiver for more information about eating and drinking while being treated for cancer.

When is my next medical appointment?

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea, vomiting, or no appetite for several days.
  • You are very tired and have no energy for several days.
  • You notice sores or white spots in your mouth.
  • You have constipation (hard, BMs less often than usual) or diarrhea (loose stools) for more than one day.
  • You bruise easily, or have small, red spots under your skin.
  • You have any unusual bleeding.
  • You have any signs or symptoms of infection, such as a high temperature, swelling, or pain.
  • You feel very sad for several days.
  • You feel like your heart is beating very fast.
  • You have frequent, painful urination.
  • You have a cough that is new, or that does not go away.


  • You have chest pain, shortness of breath, or trouble breathing.
  • You feel confused, or have a severe headache that does not go away.
  • You have arm or leg weakness, trouble walking, or trouble seeing.
  • Your pain increases.
  • You see swelling, feel pain, or have a hot feeling in your arms or legs.
  • You see blood in your urine or BM's.
  • You feel dizzy or feel faint (like you are going to pass out).
  • You are bleeding and cannot get the bleeding to stop.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Oral Chemotherapy (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.