In the oncology field, understanding the relationship between the dose administered and the exerted effect is particularly important because of the narrow therapeutic index associated with anti-cancer drugs and the high interpatient variability. Therefore, in this review, we provide a critical perspective of the different methods of characterising treatment exposure in the oncology setting. The increasing number of modelling applications in oncology reflects the applicability and the impact of pharmacometrics on all phases of the drug development process and patient management as well. Pharmacometric modelling is a worthy component within the current paradigm of model-based drug development, but pharmacometric modelling techniques are also accessible for the clinician in the optimisation of current oncology therapies. Consequently, the application of population models in a hospital setting by generating close collaborations between physicians and pharmacometricians is highly recommended, providing a systematic means of developing and assessing model-based metrics as 'drivers' for various responses to treatments, which can then be evaluated as predictors for treatment success. Characterising the key determinants of variability in exposure is of particular importance for anticancer agents, as efficacy and toxicity are associated with exposure. We present the different strategies to describe and predict drug exposure that can be applied depending on the data available, with the objective of obtaining the most useful information in the patients' favour throughout the full drug cycle. Therefore, the objective of the present article is to review the different approaches used to characterise a patient's exposure to oncology drugs, which will result in a better understanding of the time course of the response and the magnitude of interpatient variability.