Self-reported compliance with capecitabine: findings from a prospective cohort analysis

Oncology. 2011;80(1-2):29-33. doi: 10.1159/000328317. Epub 2011 May 23.


Objectives: While oral anticancer treatment has increased the convenience for patients with no risk of venous access complications compared to intravenous drug administration, a high level of compliance cannot always be assumed. The aim of the present report was to evaluate real-life drug adherence in a prospective cohort analysis of patients with gastrointestinal or breast cancer treated with capecitabine-based chemotherapy.

Methods: Twenty-nine Swiss oncologists recruited patients receiving capecitabine, either as monotherapy or in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents, in a prospective fashion. Patients recorded both their capecitabine intake and any adverse effects each day in patient diaries.

Results: A total of 177 patients were included, 143 (81%) with gastrointestinal tumours and 34 (19%) with breast cancer. Overall, 161 patients (91%) were considered as fully compliant, while 16 patients (9%) reported some kind of compliance error. Reasons for non-compliance included forgetting to take treatment (n = 9), side effects (n = 4) and misunderstanding instructions (n = 3). Self-reported compliance was not influenced by age or Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, but there was a trend towards better compliance with capecitabine therapy if fewer adverse effects occurred (p = 0.07, simple logistic regression).

Conclusions: Self-reported compliance with capecitabine-based therapy in clinical practice is high and seems to be adversely affected by side effects.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / adverse effects
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Capecitabine
  • Deoxycytidine / adverse effects
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxycytidine / therapeutic use
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / adverse effects
  • Fluorouracil / analogs & derivatives*
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Report
  • Stomatitis / chemically induced
  • Vomiting / chemically induced


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Capecitabine
  • Fluorouracil