Section 2. Role of Oral Therapies in Oncology
The use of orally administered cancer therapy is likely to increase dramatically in the coming years. Agents such as tamoxifen, procarbazine, and oral cyclophosphamide have long been part of the management of many malignancies. More recently developed oral chemotherapy formulations include fluorouracil derivatives such as capecitabine, and many other novel agents, administered orally, have been approved in the past decade. Oral agents also have a dominant role in the evolving field of chemoprevention of malignancies, where oral administration may improve efficacy in some settings by facilitating chronic exposure to the drug. Tool 1 includes a listing of currently available oral therapies.
Because oral counterparts of IV agents may have different side effect profiles, they may be better tolerated in some circumstances (Carney, 1991). Furthermore, as oncologists pay more attention to patient preferences and quality-of-life issues in clinical care, treatment options that enhance flexibility for patients are likely to be used more often. There is little question that oral regimens are more convenient for patients, and initial research (Liu, Franssen, Fitch, & Warner, 1997) has revealed that patients prefer oral to IV chemotherapy, so long as efficacy is not compromised.