Chemotherapy At Home: Safely Giving Your Child Capsules

If your child is unable to swallow chemotherapy capsules whole you will need to open the capsules.

The following instructions apply if your child is receiving one of the chemotherapy medicines listed below:


Before giving your child chemotherapy capsules

  • Wear gloves, gown, and a mask.
  • Make sure the disposal supplies are ready.
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Avoid contact with the chemotherapy by wearing gloves and a face mask. Cover your clothes with a disposable gown, apron, or old oversized shirt.

Giving doses that use the entire capsule

You will need:

  • a large, clear plastic bag
  • capsule(s)
  • small medicine cup
  • spoon or oral syringe
  • food or juice being used to mix with the drug
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1. Remove the powder from inside the capsules. Mix the powder with food or liquid immediately prior to giving the dose.

  • Lomustine may be mixed with food such as applesauce, yogurt or jam. Do not mix the powder in liquid.
  • Temozolomide may be mixed with apple sauce or apple juice.
  • The medicine may not dissolve completely.Keep extra apple juice on hand if you need to add to any remaining powder in the cup.
  • Procarbazine may be mixed with a suitable food or juice.
  • Ensure proper diet restrictions are followed. (Refer to the procarbazine diet booklet)
  • Hydroxyurea may be mixed with a suitable food or juice (such as apple sauce, yogurt or apple juice).


2. Put the food or juice you will use to mix the drug with into a small medication cup.

3. Put the capsule(s), the medication cup, spoon and/or syringe inside the clear plastic bag.

4. To prevent the chemotherapy powder from getting into the air, prepare the dose inside the plastic bag using these instructions:

  • Knock the powder down into one end of the capsule.
  • Take the top off the capsule.
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  • Empty the powder into the medication cup. Repeat this procedure if more than one capsule is to be used.
  • Mix the powder with the food or juice that is in the cup.
  • Put the mixture on a spoon (if mixed with food) or draw up in a syringe (for apple juice) and give it to your child by mouth. Ensure all the mixture is given to your child.
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Giving doses that do not use the entire capsule

Procarbazine and hydroxyurea can be made into a solution for doses that do not use the entire capsule.

You will need:

  • a large, clear plastic bag
  • the capsule
  • Dissolve 'n Dose® device 
  • a small medicine cup with 10 mL of water and an oral syringe
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To prevent the powder from getting into the air, prepare the dose inside the plastic bag using these instructions:

  • Knock the powder down into one end of the capsule.
  • Take the top off the capsule.
  • Empty the powder into the dissolve and dose device.
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  • Add 10 mL of tap water (not hot) to the device.
  • Cap the Dissolve 'n Dose®. Gently rock the device back and forth then allow to sit for two minutes.
    Use the solution within 20 minutes.
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Discard the unused portion and clean the Dissolve 'n Dose device after each use as described in the disposal and clean-up sections of Chemotherapy at Home: Safely Handling and Giving Medicines.

For Procarbazine, Matulane® 50 mg capsules

  • Using the Dissolve 'n Dose® device will make a 5 mg/mL solution.
  • Measure the appropriate dose (5 mg = 1 mL) using the oral syringe as instructed by your pharmacist, nurse, or physician.
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For hydroxyurea, (Hydrea®) 500mg capsules

  • Using the Dissolve 'n Dose® device will make a 50 mg/mL solution.
  • Measure the appropriate dose (50 mg = 1 mL) using the oral syringe as instructed by your pharmacist, nurse, or physician.

Key points

  • If your child is unable to swallow chemotherapy capsules whole you will need to open the capsules.
  • Before giving your child capsules, wear a mask, gown, and gloves.
  • Mix the powder with food or liquid immediately prior to giving the dose.
  • Use the procarbazine and hydroxyurea solutions within 20 minutes.

Elyse Zelunka BScPhm, RPh, ACPR
Lisa Honeyford, RN, MN, CPON 
Tracey Taylor BScPhm, RPh, ACPR
Ann Chang RN, MN, CPON
Drugs & Therapeutics Committee,Haematology/Oncology Quality Utilization & Patient Care Committee

12/23/2010
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This translation project was conducted with support from C17 and funded by Childhood Cancer Foundation – Candlelighter’s Canada and Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation.​





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