Drug Treatment of Cancer Pain

Which drugs are used to treat cancer pain?


The pain ladder of the World Health Organization (WHO's pain ladder) is used to determine the appropriate treatment with drugs in cases of nociceptive pain in cancer patients.

The pain ladder consists of three steps:

Step 1: non-opioids: for example, paracetamol, ibuprophen, voltaren

Step 2: weak opioids: for example, tramadol

Step 3: strong opioids: for example, morphine, oxycodon, fentanyl, methadon


Many people are reluctant to use opioids. It is true that opioids do have side effects. Therefore, a drug to prevent constipation is always prescribed to be used in combination with opioids.

However, the fear of using opioids is very often based on prejudice or myths.

The drugs used to treat neuropathic pain in cancer patients are the same as those used to treat neuropathic pain in other patients.

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