A chemotherapy tablet is one form of oral chemotherapy and is useful as a treatment for cancer. Oral chemotherapy is any cancer drug that patients swallow instead of having inserted into the body with a needle injection, according to the American Cancer Society.
Many patients find oral chemotherapy to be easier because it is not necessary to go into the hospital and patients can take it at home, notes the American Cancer Society. However, they are often more expensive than intravenous chemotherapy, and insurance co-pays are usually higher. Side effects vary depending on the tablet but can include nausea, vomiting and skin changes. Mouth sores, diarrhea and hair loss are other side effects, as well as low blood counts. Oral chemotherapy tablets may harm healthy cells in the process of destroying cancer cells.
Different forms of oral chemotherapy may have different instructions on how to use them and where to store them. It is important to wear gloves when handling the drugs, and some tablets may need to stay in their original containers. If patients feel too sick to take the drugs or are throwing up the treatment dosage, contact a doctor immediately. Doctors may prescribe oral chemotherapy in cycles to protect healthy cells.