The word alone arouses fear and anxiety. Many cancers can be successfully treated, and many people living with cancer can achieve a good quality of life, but diagnosis can have a heavy emotional impact. People with cancer often fear the treatment as much as, or more than, the disease itself.emotional impact. People with cancer often fear the treatment as much as, or more than, the disease itself.
Treating cancer at home
Surgery and radiotherapy can be provided only in the professional environment of a hospital, but subsequent pharmacological therapy must often be administered intravenously — this requires regular outpatient visits. Frequent trips to the hospital can be stressful, and disrupt the social and working lives of patients and their families.
Therapy administered at home, with minimal disruption to daily life, would be welcomed by many patients. Interviews with patients living with chronic conditions regularly identify a wish to ‘live a normal life’ without the need to plan each day around taking or administering medicines.
Treating patients in hospital is more expensive than treating them at home, so economic benefits could be reaped if patients were supported to self-administer. Although some patients learn to self-administer subcutaneous injections, many would prefer to avoid needles and injections, and this is driving efforts to develop non-injected administration of all kinds of therapy, including treatments for cancer.
Administering medicines without injection
Proteins, peptides and other biotherapeutics are not orally bioavailable so must be administered by injection — this is one of the challenges in the move towards their use. In other cases, damage to the mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract, poor oral bioavailability or poor pharmacokinetics, may lead medicine formulators to adopt a parenteral route of administration. Needleless injectors, microneedle patches and other technologies have been explored in an effort to reduce the invasiveness of delivery, but the oral route is still the preferred option.