Managing the Side Effects of Cancer and Cancer Treatment
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Here are the basics about each of the medicines below. Only the most common reactions are listed. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special steps. Use each of these drugs as advised by your doctor or the booklet they came with. If you have any questions, call your doctor.
Medicine may help ease or prevent side effects of treatment, or control certain side effects once they happen. These effects can happen from cancer or its treatment.
Medications to Help Manage Nausea and Vomiting
Common names are:
Common problems for dexamethasone are:
Common problems for dolasetron are:
Common problems for dronabinol are:
Common problems for granisetron are:
Common problems for lorazepam are:
Common problems for prochlorperazine are:
Common problems for metoclopramide are:
Common problems for ondansetron are:
Medicine to Ease Pain
There are many methods to ease pain linked to cancer and its treatments.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs ease pain and inflammation from:
Common NSAIDs are:
Common problems are:
Like NSAIDs, corticosteroids help to ease pain and inflammation.
Common names are:
Common problems are:
Opioid Pain Relievers
Opioids act on the central nervous system to relieve pain. They may cause dependence, resulting in higher doses to obtain the same pain relief. You will be watched by your doctor if you have to take opioids.
Acetaminophen is often blended with an opioid to give better pain relief than using one medicine alone. These are:
Some problems are:
Medicine to Support Your Blood Cells
During cancer treatment, blood cells can be destroyed along with cancer cells. Medicine to boost blood cells counts are:
Filgrastim helps your bone marrow make new white blood cells. White blood cells fight off and lower the risk of infection.
Epoetin helps your bone marrow to make new red blood cells This will lower the risk of anemia. It takes some time for the medicine to work. A blood transfusion can be done if you need red blood cells sooner.
Oprelvekin helps boost platelet numbers. 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.
Common problems for darbepoetin alpha are:
Common problems for filgrastim are:
Common problems forepoetin are:
Common problems for pegfilgrastim are:
Cancer pain. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/pain.html. Accessed August 21, 2019.
Cancer pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cancer-pain. Updated July 1, 2019. Accessed August 21, 2019.
Opioids for chronic cancer pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Updated November 2, 2018. Accessed August 21, 2019.
Pain control. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/paincontrol.pdf. Accessed August 21, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2019 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Last Updated: 7/21/2020
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