How to approach your patients to improve adherence to therapy

Sarah Anwar, MDLinx

San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 2017

San Antonio, Texas, United States | December 05-09, 2017


With recent approvals for new oral mTOR and CDK 4/6 inhibitors, patients with cancer are more responsible for treatment adherence, and it is important to keep the lines of communication open between patient and oncologist, to ensure a “non-threatening environment” where patient can be transparent about adherence. 


“Many times the patients don’t want to report to their physicians that they’re not adhering to the medication. They feel that there are expectations, they don’t want to let their physicians  down, they’re fearful of admitting this,” says Angela DeMichele, MD, MSCE, professor of medicine and epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania.


One strategy Dr. DeMichele suggests is to acknowledge the difficulty to adherence at the beginning of treatment, and letting the patient know that it’s okay.


Another strategy she suggests is, rather than asking if the patient always takes his or her medication, ask, “how often do you miss your medication?”


“By phrasing it that way, I think it gives patients permission to say, ‘oh yeah, I do miss it, maybe once a week, maybe once a month.’”