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 healthcare provider if you need to take any special precautions.

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.

Opioid Analgesics

Opioid analgesics may be ordered to control discomfort. They include the following drugs:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lor-tab)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Morphine (Astramorph PF, Duramorph, Kadian, MS Contin, OMS Concentrate, Oramorph SR, RMS, Roxanol)
  • Oxycodone and Acetaminophen (Percocet)

Opioid analgesics act on the central nervous system to relieve pain. These drugs can be very effective. They may cause dependence, and patients will need increasing doses to obtain the same pain relief. 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. An opioid analgesic and acetaminophen used together may provide better pain relief than either medicine used alone. In some cases, lower doses of each medicine are necessary to achieve pain relief.

The most common side effects of opioid analgesics include:

  • Constipation—A study found that the medication methylnaltrexone (Relistor) can rapidly relieve this side effect. *
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, or feeling faint
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting

Use With Caution

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