Medication interactions and cancer treatment

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Some medications can interact with each other. Learn about taking other medications while on chemotherapy and what you need to know about drug and alcohol use.

Key points

  • Some medications, including vitamins and natural products, can interact with chemotherapy or other cancer medications and affect how they work.
  • Always tell your health-care team the names of all medications, vitamins and natural supplements that you are taking and do not start a new one without asking.
  • If you decide to experiment with drugs or alcohol, it is important to tell your health-care team as these can also have a negative impact on your cancer treatment.

Can I take other medications when I’m taking chemotherapy?

Some other medications, vitamins or natural products may interact with chemotherapy or other cancer medications. This means that when taken together, they can change how well your cancer medication works or can cause other problems that can damage your health.

To protect your health, make sure you tell your health-care team the names of all the medications (including vitamins and natural products) you are taking. This includes medications that you take without a prescription as well as any vitamins, herbs or alternative medicines that you take for your health.

You should also talk to your health-care team about how best to stay up-to-date with your routine vaccinations (vaccines or shots) and about getting seasonal vaccines such as the flu vaccine each year.

Important note about drugs

Street drugs also interact with your cancer medication. As a teen, you might be tempted to experiment with different drugs, but they can have very harmful effects on your body during treatment. If you do decide to experiment with drugs, it’s important that you tell your health-care team about it. See our lifestyle section for more on drugs and alcohol during treatment.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019