Munson Health
 
Medications for Lung Cancer

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by Wood D
 
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 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 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 her if any of these medications are appropriate for you.

Prescription Medications

  • Prochlorperazine (Compazine)
  • Odansetron (Zofran)
  • Granisetron (Kytril)
  • Metoclopramide (Octamide, Metoclopramide Intensol, Reglan)
  • 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)
  • Hydrocodone (Dilaudid)
  • Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Avinza, Oramorph SR, Roxanol)
  • Oxycodone (Oxyfast)
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana)
  • Oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet)
  • Hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Vicodin)
  • Tapentadol (Nucynta)
  • Filgrastim (Neupogen)
  • Epoetin (Epogen, Procrit)

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Bayer Select Ibuprofen, Dolgesic, Excedrin IB, Genpril, Haltran, Ibren, Ibuprohm, Medipren, Midol IB, Motrin, Nuprin, Q-Profen, Rufen, Trendar)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)

Prescription Medications

  Anti-nauseants
Common names include:
  • Prochlorperazine (Compazine)
  • Odansetron (Zofran)
  • Granisetron (Kytril)
  • Metoclopramide (Octamide, Metoclopramide Intensol, Reglan)
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; Metoclopramide is usually given by injection.
Side effects may include:
For Prochlorperazine:
  • Blurred vision, change in color vision, or difficulty seeing at night
  • Fainting
  • Loss of balance control
  • Feeling sleepy or groggy
  • Restlessness or need to keep moving
  • Shuffling walk
  • Stiffness of arms or legs
  • Trembling and shaking of hands and fingers
For Odansetron:
For Granisetron:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
For Metoclopramide:
  • Diarrhea (with high doses)
  • Drowsiness
  • Restlessness
  • Increased risk of tardive dyskinesia (a serious neurological condition) in patients who take Metoclopramide for longer than three months
  Blood Stem Cell Support Drugs
Common names include:
  • 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 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

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 are. 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 do not run out.
 

References


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Gourlay DL, Heit HA, et al. Universal precautions in pain medication: a rational approach to the treatment of chronic pain. Pain Med. 2005;6(2):107-112.


Larson AM, Polson J, et al; Acute Liver Failure Study Group. Acetaminophen-induced acute liver failure: results of a United States multicenter, prospective study. Hepatology. 2005;42(6):1364-1372.


Lung cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/lung. Accessed October 7, 2008.


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Wong M, Chowienczyk P, et al. Cardiovascular issues of COX-2 inhibitors and NSAIDs. Aust Fam Physician. 2005 Nov;34(11):945-948.

 

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