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Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce pain and inflammation.
NSAIDs often are used to relieve mild to moderate pain for all types of cancer.
This class of drugs eases discomfort by blocking the pathway of an enzyme that creates prostaglandins (hormones that cause pain and swelling). By doing so, the drugs lessen the pain in different parts of the body.
Some of the NSAIDs used in cancer treatment include: ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Rufen, Nuprin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Naprelan, Anaprox, Aleve), nabumetone (Relafen), ketorolac, sulindac and diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren). The class of drugs known as Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors that emerged in the late 1990s for dealing with arthritis pain, such as the brand names Celebrex and Vioxx, is also considered part of the group of NSAIDS.
If NSAIDs are not strong enough to keep a cancer patient comfortable, physicians often will combine them with opioids, such as codeine. In later stages, doctors also may combine NSAIDs with stronger pain killers, such as morphine, to treat very severe pain.
Patients typically take NSAIDs on an as-needed basis. Doses vary depending on the type of NSAID being
People who take NSAIDs should notify their doctor before having surgery or dental work, since these drugs can prevent wounds from healing properly.
Author Info: Melissa Knopper M.S., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Cancer, 2002
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