Weak Opioid Medications for Cancer Pain

The following drugs are most commonly prescribed for moderate cancer pain when nonopioid drugs (NSAIDs) are no longer sufficiently effective. However, doctors often will maintain the use of a nonopioid medication to be used in combination with a weak (or strong) opioid because they relieve pain by different mechanisms; thus, when used together pain-relieving effects are typically enhanced. As a result, lower doses of the opioid may be used with fewer concerns about side effects. Many of the medications listed here may require triplicate prescription forms in the states that require such forms. An allergy (very rare) or side effect to one does not predict that another will be poorly tolerated.

Again, the following information is to be used as a guide only, and should not be used as a substitute for a physician's care and judgment.

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