This information will give you a general idea about the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included. 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, reduce, or manage side effects. You can develop side effects from the treatment and/or from the cancer itself. The medications are typically anti-nauseants, corticosteroids, painkillers, blood stem cell support, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Tell your doctor when you notice a new symptom. Ask if any of these medications are appropriate for you.

Prescription Medications

Anti-nauseants, also called anti-emetics, are given to help treat and or prevent nausea and vomiting that might be induced by ]]>chemotherapy]]> , ]]>radiation]]> , or surgery.



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.

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

For metoclopramide:

  • Mild sedation
  • ]]>Diarrhea]]> (with high doses)
  • Drowsiness
  • Restlessness

For odansetron:

For granisetron:

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



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

Examples of corticosteroids:

Common side effects include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Indigestion
  • Nervousness or restlessness




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.

Narcotics examples:

Percocet is a combination medication. A narcotic 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 narcotics include:

  • Constipation (very common)
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, or feeling faint
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting

Blood Stem Cell Support Drugs

During cancer treatment, blood cells can be destroyed along with cancer cells. ]]>Filgrastim]]> (Neupogen) 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]]> (Epogen, Procrit) 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 two-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
  • Skin rash or itching

For epoetin:

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


Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

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

Special Considerations

If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:

  • Take your medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share them.
  • Know what the results and side effects. Report them to your doctor.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medication and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.