Chemotherapy At Home: Safely Giving Your Child Tablets

If your child’s chemotherapy dose is a part of a tablet or she is unable to swallow the tablet whole, carefully review the following instructions.

These instructions can be used for chemotherapy tablets such as:

Before giving any chemotherapy, please see Chemotherapy at Home: Safely Handling and Giving Medicines.

Before giving your child chemotherapy tablets

  • Wear gloves, a gown, and a mask.
  • Make sure 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 your child chemotherapy tablets

  • Do not crush the tablets.
  • You may need to cut the tablets in half to obtain the correct dose for your child. To do this, use a pill splitter. Use a pair of tweezers to place the tablet in the splitter and to remove the cut tablet pieces. Use this pill splitter and tweezers to give chemotherapy only. Do not use them for other medicines.
Use a Pill Splitter For Correct Dosage
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If your child cannot swallow the tablet

Mix the tablet with water in an empty 10 mL oral syringe as follows:

  • Remove the plunger of the syringe.
  • Place the required number of tablets into the barrel of the oral syringe.
  • Replace the plunger and draw up 5mL to 7.5 mL of tap water (not hot) into syringe. Cap oral syringe with top.
  • Gently rock syringe back and forth. 
Dissolve Tablet(s) in the Oral Syringe
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  • The dose should be given as soon as the tablet breaks apart (2 to 5 minutes). Only mix the dose with water. Do not use other drinks such as juice or cola.
  • The chemotherapy tablet does not dissolve completely. You will see small white particles floating in the water. It is fine to give the medicine like this to your child.
  • After the dose has been given, draw up another 5 mL of tap water into the same syringe. Give this to your child to ensure there is no medicine left in the syringe.

    1. Key points   

      • Chemotherapy is a group of medicines that treat cancer. They come in tablet form.
      • Remember to wear gloves, a gown, and a mask before giving your child the tablets.
      • Use a pill splitter and a pair of tweezers to help you split the tablets apart.
      • If your child has trouble swallowing the tablet, you can mix it in water using an empty 10 mL syringe. Do not use any other drinks to make the mixture. 

    Elyse Zelunka BScPhm, RPh, ACPR
    Lisa Honeyford, RN, MN, CPON 
    Tracey Taylor BScPhm, RPh, ACPR October 2010
    Ann Chang RN, MN, CPON
    Drugs & Therapeutics Committee
    Haematology/Oncology Quality Utilization & Patient Care Committee 


    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.​