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Many patients are often confused with the host of additional medications they receive during a course of radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Some of these have side effects of their own. When used well these drugs substantially improve the quality of life of a patient receiving cancer treatments so it is important that they are taken properly.

This section describes some of these drugs and medications often given to patients including the reasons why they are given. This does not mean you will definitely receive them and many oncology units may use different drugs depending on the logistical arrangements of the unit and the personal experience of the clinician.

Drugs which can be given with chemotherapy

Intravenous drugs given to prevent problems during chemotherapy include:

Oral drugs given for a few days after chemotherapy

  • Anti-sickness drugs such as ondansetron, metochlopramide, domperidone, cyclizine
  • Sedatives such as lorazepam, chlorpromazine to further help sickness and aid sleep
  • Steroids for sickness, fatigue and in some cases have an anti-cancer effect
  • Anti-indigestion drugs to counter balance the steroids e.g. omeprazole, lansoprazole
  • Anti fungal agents to help mouth ulcers and counterbalance the steroids eg. amphoteracine or nystatin lozengers

To protect from infection

  • Antibiotics and anti-fungals can be given for 7 days from day 8 to cover the lowest fall in the white cells e.g. ciprofloxicin and fluconazole
  • Growth factors can be given to boost the white cells after the chemotherapy either as a single injection or over 4-10 days.

Other drugs sometimes prescribed with chemotherapy

  • Loperamide - to counterbalance the diarrhoea caused by some drugs such as  5fluorouracil, capecitabine and irinotecan.
  • Pyridoxine - to help hand foot syndrome from 5FU & capecitabine
  • Hyoscine or atropine to cover the cholinergic side effects of irinotecan (Campto)
  • Anti-histamines to prevent or treat an allergic reaction - often given with taxol, taxotere or herceptin
  • Eye drops such as optochrome or artificial tears to help the gritty eyes cause by drugs e.g. methotrexate and 5FU

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