The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Medications may help to either prevent or reduce side effects of treatment, or to manage certain side effects once they occur. Since you can develop these symptoms from the treatment and/or from the cancer itself, it is essential that you discuss them with your doctor when you notice them, and ask if any of these medications are appropriate for you.
Antiemetics given by prescription include the following:
Common side effects for dexamethasone include:
Common side effects for dolasetron include:
Common side effects for dronabinol include:
Common side effects for granisetron include:
Common side effects for lorazepam include:
Prochlorperazine can be taken by mouth, injection, or a suppository. Ondansetron and granisetron can be taken orally or as injections. Metoclopramide is usually given by injection.
Common side effects for prochlorperazine include:
Common side effects for metoclopramide include:
Common side effects for ondansetron include:
To help manage pain, your doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). You may also be prescribed corticosteroids or opioid pain relievers.
NSAIDs are used to relieve pain and inflammation. You may experience pain and inflammation for a variety of reasons, such as:
NSAIDs include the following:
Common side effects of NSAIDs include:
Like NSAIDs, corticosteroids help to minimize inflammation and pain due to inflammation.
Corticosteroids include the following:
Common side effects of corticosteroids include:
Opioid pain relievers act on the central nervous system. These drugs can be very effective however, they must be used with care because of their side effects. Addiction is rare in those who use these medications appropriately for pain control. If you are going to take one of these drugs for a long period of time, your doctor will closely monitor you.
Opioid pain relievers include the following:
Acetaminophen is often combined with an opioid analgesic to provide better pain relief than either medication used alone. And in some cases, lower doses of each medication are necessary to achieve pain relief. Examples of such drugs include the following:
The most common side effects of opioid pain relievers include:
During cancer treatment, blood cells can be destroyed along with cancer cells. Medications given to treat this problem are called blood stem cell support drugs and include the following:
Filgrastim helps your bone marrow make new white blood cells. White blood cells fight off and reduce the risk of infection.
Epoetin helps your bone marrow to make new red blood cells, which help reduce the risk of anemia. The medication is quite effective, but it has a two-week delay between the injection and when your red blood cell count really starts to come back. It is not used as a “quick fix” for a low red blood cell count. A blood transfusion is usually performed if you need to recover your red blood cell count more quickly.
Oprelvekin is a platelet growth factor. Platelets help your blood clot, so very low counts can lead to serious bleeding. If your platelet counts fall below a specific level, you may be given transfusions.
Blood stem cell support drugs are given by injection in your doctor's office.
Common side effects for darbepoetin alpha include:
Common side effects for filgrastim include:
Common side effects forepoetin include:
Common side effects for pegfilgrastim include:
Bader S, Jaroslawksi K, Blum HE, Becker G. Opioid-induced constipation in advanced illness: Safety and efficacy of methylnaltrexone bromide. Clin Med Insights Oncol. 2011;5:201-211.
Cancer pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 25, 2015. Accessed May 27, 2015.
Guide to controlling cancer pain. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002906-pdf.pdf. Accessed May 27, 2015.
Pain control. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/paincontrol.pdf. Updated May 2014. Accessed May 27, 2015.
Treatment of pain. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/pain/treatment-of-pain. Updated April 2014. Accessed May 27, 2015.
Last reviewed January 2016 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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