Guide to cancer pain medication

Cancer and the various treatments it offers can cause pain. Cancer can be managed with pain medications. Opioids, acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are all medications that can be used to relieve pain.

Cancer is often accompanied by pain. A tumor can destroy tissue around it as it grows. It can also press against nerves and release chemical substances that cause pain.

Cancer treatment can be painful. Chemotherapy, for example, can cause pain and peripheral neuritis.

This article discusses how to manage cancer-related pain.

How do doctors administer pain relief?

Cancer pain medication can be administered in several ways. Doctors can administer pain medication in several ways.

  • Oral: Tablets, capsules, and liquid suspensions are available.
  • Pain relief patches: The patches are designed to allow medication to be absorbed through the skin.
  • Rectal Suppositories: The medication is dissolved and absorbed into the bloodstream in suppository form.
  • Subcutaneous injections are common. The medication is injected by a doctor into the tissue just below the surface of the skin.
  • PCA Pump: The patient-controlled analgesia pump can deliver either a constant or intermittent flow of pain medication that is controlled by the user.


Opioids work similarly to the natural endorphins produced by the body to relieve stress and pain. They activate opioid receptors in your brain.

Opioids are a major component of cancer pain medications.

Opioids are prescribed by doctors for patients experiencing moderate to severe pain or increasing pain due to cancer or cancer treatments. An estimated 40 percent of people with cancer suffer from moderate to severe pain.

The following are some of the most common opioids that can be used to treat cancer pain:

  • fentanyl
  • hydrocodone
  • hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • methadone (dolophine, methadose)
  • morphine
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, OxyIR, Roxicodone)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana).
  • tapentadol (Nucynta)
  • tramadol (Ultram)

There are two types of these medications: immediate-release and extended-release. ER is a tablet that releases the drug gradually, allowing the body to absorb the medication over time. IR is a tablet that releases the medication all at once.

Opioids are used to treat chronic pain. Patients who take them must adhere to a strict schedule.

The onset of IR opioids is faster, but the effects only last for about 2 to 4 hours. Doctors prescribe IR painkillers to treat breakthrough symptoms.

Use caution when using

Before prescribing opioids, doctors consider a number of factors, including:

  • possible medication interactions
  • Age of a person
  • If a person receives treatment for another condition,

The doctor may ask the patient how to store the medication and if there are children in the house.

Blood or urine tests can be used to determine side effects or monitor dosage for people taking opioid prescriptions.

The combination of opioids and other substances that cause sleepiness is dangerous. These include alcohol, medications to help sleep, antihistamines, and antidepressants. The following can occur when opioids are combined with these substances:

  • Trouble breathing
  • dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • anxiety
  • confusion

The dose of opioid medication is gradually reduced by doctors when a patient no longer needs it. This method helps prevent unwanted effects, such as flu-like symptoms, diarrhea or excess sweating.

Opioids may cause physical dependence. Doctors may prescribe other pain-relieving therapies to prevent substance abuse disorder.

American Cancer Society(ACS)Trusted Source says that some people might need higher doses. It could be because the pain is getting worse or a person’s tolerance has increased.

But, the need for an increase in opioid dosage does not necessarily mean that a person is addicted to it .

Side effects

Some people who take opioids for cancer pain may experience side effects. Some of these side effects include:

  • constipation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sleepiness
  • itch
  • dizziness
  • Confusing words and phrases
  • Dreams
  • hallucinations
  • Breathing shallowly or slowly
  • Trouble Urinating

As the body adapts to the medication, some side effects will subside.

Acetaminophen, NSAIDs, and

The non-opioid medication acetaminophen, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are used to treat mild or moderate pain.

ACS TrustedSource states that acetaminophen is effective in reducing temperature. If a patient is receiving chemotherapy, acetaminophen may be prescribed to cover the fever. A fever may indicate an infection.

NSAIDs can also be incompatible with those taking other NSAIDs. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one pain medication at once. They can have the same effect and may cause side effects.

Considerations and precautions

Acetaminophen and Tylenol can cause liver and kidney damage when taken in high doses or along with alcohol.

NSAIDs are more likely to cause complications if you take certain medications or have other factors.

  • Allergies to aspirin and other NSAIDs
  • kidney problems
  • steroids
  • lithium
  • blood pressure medication
  • stomach ulcers
  • gout
  • Oral medication for diabetes or gout
  • Surgery is scheduled within one week.
  • Blood thinners
  • bleeding disorders
  • alcohol use

Aspirin-containing products should not be taken by children and teenagers.

If you cannot take acetaminophen or NSAIDs, it is important to check all medications carefully for the same ingredients

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