The development of oral cancer drugs as a modality therapy over the last decade has highlighted the problem of non-adherence. Only cancer drugs that are taken can actually work. Contrary to what is expected, a significant share of cancer patients doesn’t take their cancer drugs as prescribed. Presented at the ESMO Congress 2016, the results of a new study by Professor Florence Joly and Dr Melanie Dos Santos of the Centre Francois Baclesse in Caen, on the “Impact of cognitive functions on oral anticancer therapies adherence” highlights that cognitive disorders may be an under-estimated major parameter (notably among elderly patients).
Dr. Stegall’s Comments: Patient compliance can be an issue with any treatment, including oral medications. This is why I emphasize to my patients that we are a team, and the protocol we decide on for you is OUR protocol. This communicates two key points: one, I provide my recommendations and together, we agree to a protocol; and two, because we both agree to it, I must do my part and you must do yours. Not surprisingly, I have found that compliance is much better this way. Paternalistic medicine where the doctor tells the patient what to do, with little to no input from the patient, is not how medicine should be practiced. And on the other end of the spectrum, patients who constantly tinker with the protocol and doctor themselves defeat the purpose of having an expert physician on their team.