Bone cancer symptoms can be painful. Here are some of the medications your doctor may use to treat the disease and minimize its symptoms, and the side effects that these drugs may cause.
Bone cancer is the type of cancer that creates malignant tumors which can damage the normal bone tissue in your body. It is a rare form of cancer and accounts for less than one percent of all cancer cases. The usual and not-so-common bone cancer symptoms include pain in the bones, inflammation and tenderness in and near the affected area, numbness and tingling, problems in movement, weaker bones that are susceptible to fractures, fatigue, unusual weight loss, and fever. If you have been experiencing any of these bone cancer symptoms, report it to the doctor at the earliest. These symptoms may also occur due to some other health condition and most people tend to mistake them for some less-serious problem, but getting it checked at the earliest is vital.
There are treatment options available for bone cancer, and your doctor may recommend one depending on the specific type of cancer you have, the stage of your bone cancer, and other health issues that you may have. To treat the various bone cancer symptoms, the doctor may suggest some oral medicines. It is important for you to know about the medications that may be prescribed by your doctor to treat bone cancer symptoms. In addition, being aware of the side effects that these medicines may cause can help you understand what you can expect from your treatment. Here are some of the medications that may be recommended to provide relief from your bone cancer symptoms.
For pain that is mild to moderate
If you have been experiencing pain due to bone cancer and the pain is mild to moderate in intensity, you may be given over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), or some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include tablets like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.) While taking acetaminophen in heavier doses may cause liver damage, NSAIDs can cause side effects like irritation and bleeding in the stomach, kidney damage, and easy bruising.
For pain that is moderate to severe
One of the most common bone cancer symptoms is bone pain, and it can range from being tolerable and mild to quite severe. To treat pain that ranges from moderate to intense, you may be prescribed pain medications known as opioids. These medicines include codeine, OxyContin or Roxicodone (oxycodone), Duragesic (fentanyl), Vicodin, and methadone. These can provide considerable relief from the pain, but at the same time have side effects like sleepiness, nausea and vomiting, or constipation. If the side effects are too severe, you can ask your doctor for additional medications to minimize the effects.
For brittle bones
Another of the bone cancer symptoms that patients experience is weak and brittle bones, which may increase your chances of getting a fracture easily. To treat this symptom, doctors often use bisphosphonate drugs, which are also used to treat osteoporosis. In addition, such medicines are also used to reduce cancer-related pain as they work towards strengthening your weakened bone tissue. Zometa (Zoledronic Acid) and Aredia (pamidronate) are two drugs that have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used for this purpose. After taking these bisphosphonate medications, you may experience certain side effects, which include fatigue, fever, cold and flu-like symptoms, and irritation in the esophagus and stomach.
For the sensation of tingling and burning from pain
Many bone cancer patients report symptoms like numbness, tingling, and a burning sensation, which is caused by the pain they have been experiencing. To treat such bone cancer symptoms, nerve-related (neuropathic) medications are often prescribed. The drugs used for this purpose include antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs. Neurontin (gabapentin) and divalproex are some of the anti-seizure drugs used to treat these bone cancer symptoms, but they can cause side effects like fatigue, light-headedness, and liver damage. If you are put on antidepressants like Elavil (amitriptyline), and Tofranil (imipramine), you may experience some side effects that include dryness in the mouth, dizziness, sleepiness, and constipation. However, remember that the doctor has prescribed antidepressants just to target your bone cancer symptoms, and it does not mean that you are suffering from depression.
Your doctor may try different drug combinations in order to reduce your specific bone cancer symptoms, and you can help by noting down the reactions or side effects that each medicine has on you. This will help your doctor to understand what medications work the best for you, and which are to be avoided.