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Breast Cancer: Post Treatment 0 - 6 Months: Medical Care

How To Comply With Drug Regimens. Save $ When Purchasing. Store And Dispose Of Drugs Safely.

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Treatment for breast cancer is frequently followed by a regimen of chemopreventive substances that can help prevent or delay a recurrence of your cancer or development of another cancer. For example, tamoxoxifen may be prescribed for up to 5 years after the end of breast cancer treatment.

It is preferable to think of these drugs are part of your treatment and to do everything you can to take the drugs as prescribed. (This is known as "adherence" or "compliance.") There are aides to help you remember when to take drugs.

  • Before agreeing to take any drug, learn about the risks as well as the benefits.
    • We provide questions to ask before agreeing to take any drug. 
  • Do what you can to avoid medical errors
    • Start by obtaining a readable doctor’s prescription. If you can't read it, neither can the pharmacist.
    • Check the drug you receive against the prescription and make sure it looks like you expect. 
  • Avoid overmedication
    • Overmedication is all too common. Ask your doctor if a lower dose will do the same job - particularly for drugs you continue to take over time.
  • Carry a list of your drugs all the time. Emergencies happen. Plus the list will be helpful each time you see a doctor or fill a prescription. We provide a form List Of Medications.
  • Have each newly prescribed drug checked for negative interaction with other drugs you are taking . Do not assume that this will happen automatically. 
  • Over-the-counter medications, supplements and vitamins need to be treated as if they are drugs.
    • Just because they are sold without a prescription does not mean that there is no risk.
  • Take care if you use herbs, vitamins or other supplements.
    • They are not subject to FDA approval. Therefore, there is no guarantee about their safety or effectiveness. 
    • There is not even a guarantee that the same mix of ingredients will be in each bottle – even for bottles from the same manufacturer.
    • It may feel like insurance company money is other people’s money, but expenses show up in your increased premiums.
  • Do not let price be the sole factor in determining what you want or where to obtain the drugs. 
    • For example, what happens if you need a refill in an emergency? 
    • Also keep in mind that a pharmacist can be a very important part of your health care team.  If necessary, you may be able to obtain drugs for free or very low cost.
  • If the current drugs on the market don’t satisfy your needs, there may be newer drugs to consider that are still being tested for safety. Access to these drugs is through clinical trials – controlled tests where use of the drug is medically monitored. It is essential that you be fully informed before entering a clinical trial.
  • Live with drugs wisely.
    • Comply with prescribed orders. Non-compliance can be harmful. Time tested tips help if you have difficulty complying.
    • Do not share drugs.
    • Store drugs correctly (not in a medicine cabinet in the bathroom).
    • Travel well with your drugs. Carry a copy of your prescription. Carry an extra supply in case you get delayed.
  • Stay open. The decisions you make regarding medical care and treatment may change over time.

Even if you have health insurance, it is likely you will have to pay a portion of the cost.

  • You can save money by purchasing drugs wisely. See Drugs: How To Save Money When Buying Or Using
  • If a health insurer declines to pay for use of a drug because it is "off label" (a use other than the use approved by the FDA), appeal with your doctor's help. Be persistent.
  • To learn how to appeal, click here.
  • Help is available if you cannot afford prescribed drugs. Click here.

NOTE: If you have side effects which are difficult for you, speak with your doctor about reducing dosage, switching medicines or joining a clinical trial. 

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