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Breast Cancer Recurrence

Drugs, Vitamins and Supplements

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  • Before agreeing to take any drug, learn about the risks as well as the benefits.
    • Survivorship A to Z provides 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. In case it helps, 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 drugs to tak or where to obtain them. 
    • Free or low cost drugs may be available.
    • The drug manufacturer likely has a patient assistance program that is not just for poor people.
    • When choosing where to buy drugs, think about what  happens if you need a refill in an emergency.? 
    • 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 drugs currently 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.
    • Drugs: How To Save Money When Buying Or Using
    • Drugs: How To Choose Which To Take
  • Stay open. The decisions you make regarding medical care and treatment may change over time.

For more information, see: Drugs 101 (An overview), Health Supplements

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