Editorial Staff and Contributors
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 after they occur. You can develop side effects from the treatment and/or from the cancer itself. Tell your doctor when you notice a new symptom, and ask if any of these medications are appropriate for you.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Common names include:
Antiemetics are given to help treat nausea and vomiting that may be caused by
radiation therapy, or surgery to treat cancer. 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.
Some side effects include:
Corticosteroids help to minimize inflammation and to relieve pain due to inflammation. You may experience pain and inflammation for a variety of reasons, such as:
Common side effects include:
Opioids act on the central nervous system to relieve pain. These drugs can be very effective however, they must be used with great caution because they can be mentally and/or physically addicting. If you are going to take one of these drugs for a long period of time, your doctor will closely monitor you.
Vicodin and percocet is a combination medication. An opioid analgesic and acetaminophen used together may provide better pain relief than either medication used alone. In some cases, lower doses of each medication are necessary to achieve pain relief.
The most common side effects of opioids include:
During cancer treatment, blood cells can be destroyed along with cancer cells. Filgrastim helps your bone marrow make new white blood cells. White blood cells help your body fight infection. Therefore, filgrastim helps to reduce your risk of infection.
Epoetin helps your bone marrow to make new red blood cells. Low red blood cell levels can lead to anemia. Therefore, epoetin helps reduce your risk of anemia. Epoetin is effective, but it has a 2-week delay between the injection and when your red blood cell count 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.
Both filgrastim and epoetin are given by injection in your doctor's office.
Some specific bacterial infections are associated with lymphomas that affect the stomach, lungs, or intestines. Antibiotics are used to fight the infection. In some cases, it may also help with treating the associated lymphoma. Antibiotics are usually taken by mouth. If the infection is serious, they can be given by IV. For some infections, a combination of antibiotics may work best. Talk to your doctor if you are or think you are pregnant, or breastfeeding. Some antibiotics may need to be avoided during pregnancy. It is important to take all of the antibiotics as prescribed, even when you are feeling well.
Serious side effects associated with clarithromycin include:
NSAIDs are used to relieve pain and inflammation. You may experience pain and inflammation for a variety of reasons, such as:
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:
Ballantyne J, Mao J. Opioid therapy for chronic pain.
N Engl J Med.
Clarithromycin. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 14, 2016. Accessed March 28, 2016.
FDA's MedWatch safety alerts. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm142815.htm. Updated October 14, 2014. Accessed March 28, 2016.
Gourlay DL, Heit HA, Almahrezi A. Universal precautions in pain medicine: a rational approach to the treatment of chronic pain.
Helicobacter pylori infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 8, 2016. Accessed March 28, 2016.
Larson AM, Polson J, Fontana RJ, et al. Acetaminophen-induced acute liver failure: results of a United States multicenter, prospective study.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 25, 2016. Accessed March 28, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
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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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