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Unwanted effects of anticancer drugs


Patients receiving cytotoxic chemotherapy for cancer are often attended by their general practitioners for symptoms arising between visits to the specialist unit. The GP will need to decide whether to attribute new symptoms to the disease or to the treatment. Many drugs in regular use in oncology centres are briefly described in the BNF, and some oncologists send the GP information sheets about the drugs they use, particularly new ones. The specialist should communicate with the patient and relatives, especially to warn of likely unwanted effects and to explain whether therapy is intended to be palliative or curative.1 The specialist must also keep in touch with the GP to ensure appropriate continuing care.

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