This is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medicines listed below. Only the most basic problems are listed. Ask your doctor if there are any other steps you need to take. Use each of them as your doctor tells you. If you have any questions or can’t follow the package instructions, call your doctor.

Medicines may help ease or prevent treatment side effects. It's best to try to control them as they happen. Talk to your doctor if you notice any changes.

Prescription Medicines

Antiemetics

  • Prochlorperazine
  • Ondansetron
  • Granisetron
  • Metoclopramide

Corticosteroids

  • Dexamethasone
  • Prednisone

Opioids

  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone and acetaminophen

Blood Stem Cell Support Drugs

  • Filgrastim
  • Epoetin

Over-the-Counter Medicines

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

Prescription Medicines

Antiemetics
  • Prochlorperazine
  • Ondansetron
  • Granisetron
  • Metoclopramide

These are given to help treat nausea or vomiting. These are common with any cancer treatments. They can be given as a shot or taken as a pill.

Some problems are:

For prochlorperazine:

  • Vision problems—may also involve night vision problems
  • Fainting
  • Loss of balance control
  • Restlessness or need to keep moving
  • Shuffling walk
  • Stiffness of arms or legs
  • Trembling and shaking of hands and fingers

For ondansetron:

For granisetron:

  • Belly pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness

For metoclopramide:

  • Diarrhea (with high doses)
  • Drowsiness
  • Restlessness
  • Higher risk of tardive dyskinesia in those who take it for longer than 3 months
Corticosteroids
  • Dexamethasone
  • Prednisone

These medicines ease inflammation and pain related to it. These problems can happen because of:

  • Bone pain
  • Fluid buildup in the body

Some problems are:

  • Increased hunger
  • Indigestion
  • Nervousness or restlessness
Opioids
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone and acetaminophen

Opioids ease pain by acting on the central nervous system. They can help, but must be used with a doctor's care because they cause addiction.

An opioid mixed with acetaminophen may provide better pain relief than using either one alone. In some cases, lower doses of each medicine are needed for pain relief.

Some problems are:

  • Lightheadedness or feeling faint
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation

Blood Stem Cell Support Drugs

  • Filgrastim
  • Epoetin

When you're getting treated, blood cells can be destroyed. Filgrastim helps the bone marrow make new white blood cells. These will help you fight off or lower the risk of getting infections.

Epoetin helps your bone marrow to make new red blood cells (RBCs). Low RBCs can lead to anemia. Epoetin helps lower this risk. It can take up to 2 weeks for it to work. If you need help faster, you may need a blood transfusion.

For filgrastim:

  • Headache
  • Pain in arms or legs
  • Pain in joints or muscles
  • Pain in lower back or pelvis
  • Skin rash or itching

For epoetin:

  • Cough, sneezing, or sore throat
  • Fever
  • Swelling of face, fingers, ankles, feet, or lower legs
  • Weight gain

Over-the-Counter Medicines

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

NSAIDs ease inflammation and pain related to it. These problems can happen because of:

  • Bone pain
  • Fluid buildup in the body

Some problems are:

  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Heartburn, indigestion, nausea, or vomiting

Special Considerations

If you are taking medicines:

  • Take the medicine as directed. Don’t change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Don’t share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one medicine. This includes over-the-counter products and supplements.
  • Plan for refills as needed.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
  • Review Date: 09/2018 -
  • Update Date: 10/31/2018 -