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 health care provider if you need to take any special precautions.

Use each of these medications as recommended by your health care provider, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your health care provider.

Medications may help to either prevent or reduce side effects of treatment, or to manage certain side effects once 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 him or her if any of these medications are appropriate for you.



  • Prochlorperazine (Compazine)
  • Metoclopramide (Octamide, Metoclopramide Intensol, Reglan)
  • Odansetron (Zofran)
  • Granisetron (Kytril)

Anti-nauseants, also called anti-emetics, are given to help treat nausea and vomiting that may be caused by chemotherapy, radiation, 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; and metoclopramide is usually given by injection.

Common side effects include:
For prochlorperazine:

  • Blurred vision, change in color vision, or difficulty seeing at night
  • 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


  • Diarrhea (with high doses)
  • Drowsiness
  • Restlessness


  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headache


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


Dexamethasone (Cortastat, Dalalone, Decadrol, Decadron, Decaject, Dexacorten, Dexamethasone Intensol, Dexasone, Dexone, Hexadrol, Mymethasone, Primethasone, Solurex)

Prednisone (Cordrol, Deltasone, Liquid Pred, Meticorten, Orasone, Prednicot, Prednisone Intensol, Pred-Pak, Sterapred)

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:

Bone pain from cancer that has spread to your bones.

Edema (fluid build up in cells) caused by tumors or treatment.

Common side effects include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Indigestion
  • Nervousness or restlessness


Hydrocodone (Dilaudid, Hydrostat)
Methadone (Astramorph PF, Duramorph, Kadian, MS Contin, OMS Concentrate, Oramorph SR, Rescudose, RMS Uniserts, Roxanol)
Oxycodone and Acetaminophen (Percocet)

Narcotics 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.

Percocet is a combination medication. A narcotic analgesic and acetaminophen used together may provide better pain relief than either medicine used alone. And in some cases, lower doses of each medicine are necessary to achieve pain relief.

The most common side effects of narcotics include:

  • Dizziness, light-headedness, or feeling faint
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation


Filgrastim (Neupogen)
Epoetin (Epogen, Procrit)
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 quite effective, but it has a 2-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.

Both filgrastim and epoetin are given by injection in your doctor's office.

Common side effects include:

For filgrastim:

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


For epoetin:

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



Ibuprofen (Advil, Bayer Select Ibuprofen, Dolgesic, Excedrin IB, Genpril, Haltran, Ibifon, Ibren, Ibu, Ibuprin, Ibuprohm, Medipren, Midol IB, Motrin, Nuprin, Q-Profen, Rufen, Trendar)

Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)

NSAIDs are used to relieve pain and inflammation. You may experience pain and inflammation for a variety of reasons, such as:

Bone pain from cancer that has spread to your bones

Edema (fluid build up in cells) caused by tumors or treatment

Common side effects include:

  • Stomach cramps, pain, or discomfort
  • Dizziness, drowsiness, or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Heartburn, indigestion, nausea, or vomiting


  • Take them as directed, not more, not less, not at a different time.
  • Do not stop taking them without consulting your health care provider.
  • Don’t share them with anyone else.
  • Know what effects and side effects to expect, and report them to your health care provider.
  • If you are taking more than one drug, even if it is over-the-counter, be sure to check with a physician or pharmacist about drug interactions.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.

Request a Refill

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