What Medicines Help Treat Cancer Pain?
When cancer causes you physical pain, there are many medicines that can help manage it so you feel better. Your doctor will prescribe what you need based on your situation.
Any time you have pain, whether it’s caused directly by your cancer or a side effect of treatment, tell your doctor right away. Don’t try to tough it out. It’s easier to bring pain under control in the early stages. Severe pain may take longer to control and need more medicine.
For most people, these medications help. You may be able to sleep and eat better and keep up with daily activities such as work and hobbies.
These may be enough to control mild to moderate pain. Many are available over the counter. But some need a prescription. They include:
Acetaminophen. In normal amounts, this drug is usually safe. But large doses over long periods may lead to liver or kidney damage. Taking it with alcohol can also harm the liver. If you’ve been diagnosed with liver disease, talk with your doctor before taking acetaminophen.
NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These medicines lower inflammation along with pain. Side effects can include stomach problems and ulcers, especially if you drink alcohol or smoke. Over the long run, NSAIDs may raise your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Check with your doctor before taking a pain reliever. Discuss other medications and treatments you’re on. That’s especially important if you have other medical conditions, such as kidney problems. Using NSAIDS may worsen how well your kidneys work if you have kidney disease.
For moderate to severe pain, your doctor may prescribe an opioid. You may take it either on its own or with other kinds of pain relievers.
There are two types of opioids:
Weak opioids, such as codeine.
Strong opioids. These include fentanyl, hydromorphone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and fentanyl.
Common side effects include:
Upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting
If you have any of these symptoms, tell your doctor. You may need to change your medicine or the dosage. Your physician may also prescribe another drug to relieve the side effect, such as an anti-nausea medication.