Prevalence of potential drug-drug interactions in cancer patients treated with oral anticancer drugs

Br J Cancer. 2013 Mar 19;108(5):1071-8. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.48. Epub 2013 Feb 14.


Background: Potential drug-drug interactions (PDDIs) in patients with cancer are common, but have not previously been quantified for oral anticancer treatment. We assessed the prevalence and seriousness of potential PDDIs among ambulatory cancer patients on oral anticancer treatment.

Methods: A search was conducted in a computer-based medication prescription system for dispensing oral anticancer drugs to outpatients in three Dutch centres. Potential drug-drug interactions were identified using electronic (Drug Interaction Fact software) and manual screening methods (peer-reviewed reports).

Results: In the 898 patients included in the study, 1359 PDDIs were identified in 426 patients (46%, 95% confidence interval (CI)=42-50%). In 143 patients (16%), a major PDDI was identified. The drug classes most frequently involved in a major PDDI were coumarins and opioids. The majority of cases concerned central nervous system interactions, PDDIs that can cause gastrointestinal toxicity and prolongation of QT intervals. In multivariate analysis, concomitant use of more drugs (odds ratio (OR)=1.66, 95% CI=1.54-1.78, P<0001) and genito-urinary cancer (OR=0.25, 95% CI=0.12-0.52, P<0001) were risk factors.

Conclusion: Potential drug-drug interactions are very common among cancer patients on oral cancer therapy. Physicians and pharmacists should be more aware of these potential interactions.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Interactions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Antineoplastic Agents