Many cancer patients take medicine which interferes with treatment

Many cancer patients take other medicine which interferes with their treatment without being aware of the fact, according to researchers at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

A survey of 900 patients found almost half were taking medicine which could either lessen the efficacy of chemotherapy or increase its side effects.
‘This includes sleeping pills, antacids, antidepressants and anticoagulants. These may interact with the anticancer drugs or supportive agents, like drugs preventing vomiting,’ says Roelof van Leeuwen, hospital pharmacist and Erasmus MC researcher.
The side effects can range from being totally harmless to being extremely dangerous. In severe cases the chemotherapy may, for example, be completely inactivated or cause a reaction that makes the chemotherapy so toxic it can be even fatal for patients, Van Leeuwen said.
The researchers will present the results of the study next weekend at a conference in Vienna. They say a national digital medical records system will help prevent patients taking drugs which interfere with cancer treatment.
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