Drugs and Medications for Spinal Tumors
A multi-disciplinary spinal tumor treatment plan may include drugs and medications. Your doctor may suggest various drugs in order to:
- Manage pain before and / or after surgery
- Treat the side effects of radiation therapy
- Treat the side effects of chemotherapy
- Preserve bone mineral density (bone strength)
There are many different types of drugs and medications used for spinal tumor patients. Your doctor may suggest:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs reduce inflammation. Although many of these drugs are available over-the-counter, always discuss use with your doctor before you take an NSAID to avoid a drug interaction.
- Corticosteroids or glucocorticosteroids: These are prescription anti-inflammatory medications such as oral prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone. These are systemic drugs that affect the entire body and are prescribed for a short time.
- Opioids: Also called narcotics, opioids are powerful pain-relieving drugs with a high risk for dependency. These drugs are available by prescription only and include morphine (e.g., Kadian), codeine, and oxycodone (e.g., OyxContin).
- Anti-epileptic drugs (e.g., Neurontin) and certain anti-depressant medications (e.g., Cymbalta): These are effective to treat neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is a complex disorder involving nerves that are damaged or dysfunctional.
- Osteoporosis drugs (e.g., bisphosphonates): Osteoporosis drugs interfere with the action of osteoclasts, normal cells that break down bone. When bone breaks down faster than it is replaced (by osteoblasts), bone mineral density is reduced. Treatment using a drug to treat osteoporosis can help preserve bone density.
- Although chemotherapy is beneficial in the treatment of cancer in general, it is not helpful for spinal tumors1. However, it may benefit you overall, and therefore, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy as part of your cancer treatment plan.
Side effects of the drugs and medications listed above vary. You may experience some, all, or none of the possible side effects related to these medications.
For example, narcotics can cause drowsiness. Chemotherapy may cause fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hair loss (alopecia), and low blood cell count. Many chemotherapy side effects are temporary and can be managed with medication. Your doctor will recommend or prescribe drugs to help you manage any side effects.