Many different drugs are used to treat
cancer pain. If you are already taking pain medicine
for another problem, tell your doctor how often you are taking it and how well
The key to controlling cancer pain is to take your
medicine on a regular schedule. Do not wait until your pain gets bad. Pain is
easier to control when you treat it just after it starts. Painkilling drugs
work to control cancer pain in most people.
Be careful when taking nonprescription medicines. Talk with your doctor before you take these medicines, especially if you have a fever or have had kidney or liver disease,
gastrointestinal bleeding, or a stomach ulcer. And don't take more than the label says, unless your doctor tells you to do so.
Medicines you can buy without a
prescription may be enough to relieve your pain at times. These medicines include:
People who have cancer pain often
need stronger medicines that their doctors prescribe. Be sure to follow your
doctor's orders when you take these stronger medicines. If you still have pain,
call your doctor.
Prescription medicines may be used alone or with
other medicines. Depending on your pain, some of these medicines work better than
others. Prescription medicines include:
Ways medicine is given
Medicines for cancer pain are usually given by mouth. When a person is having trouble swallowing or faster pain relief
is needed, medicine can be taken in other ways, such as:
- By mouth. This includes pills, capsules, liquids, and medicines that dissolve on the tongue or under the tongue.
- With needles, such as a shot (injection) or into a vein (IV). A person with an IV may be able to use a (PCA) pump, which lets him or her control pain medicines.
- With a pain pump, also called an infusion pump. This kind of pump is placed under your skin to deliver pain medicine directly to your spine.
- Using skin patches. These have medicine in the patch that is absorbed into the body through the skin.
- With rectal suppositories. Medicine in capsules or pills are put inside the rectum and absorbed into the body.
- Into the spine. Medicine can be put into the area around the spinal cord, such as with spinal anesthesia or an epidural.
- Through the nose. Medicine in a nasal spray can be absorbed into the body quickly.
Medical marijuana also may help relieve cancer pain. It is available as marijuana cigarettes or as dronabinol, which is made from an active ingredient of marijuana. Dronabinol is available as a capsule.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Michael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology
October 31, 2011
©1995-2012, Healthwise, Incorporated, P.O. Box 1989, Boise, ID 83701.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
For more information,
How this information was developed.