Nausea and Oncology Series
- Nausea is a serious side effect of cancer therapy.
- It is important nausea is controlled so that the patient can continue treatment and have a better quality of life.
- Different types of nausea are caused by chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other conditions.
Nausea and vomiting are serious side effects of cancer therapy.
(overview from episode 1)
Nausea and vomiting are side effects of cancer therapy and affect most patients who have chemotherapy. Radiation therapy to the brain, gastrointestinal tract, or liver also cause nausea and vomiting.
Nausea is an unpleasant feeling in the back of the throat and/or stomach that may come and go in waves. It may occur before vomiting. Vomiting is throwing up the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Retching is the movement of the stomach and esophagus without vomiting and is also called dry heaves. Although treatments for nausea and vomiting have improved, nausea and vomiting are still serious side effects of cancer therapy because they cause the patient distress and may cause other health problems. Patients may have nausea more than vomiting.
Nausea is controlled by a part of the autonomic nervous system which controls involuntary body functions (such as breathing or digestion). Vomiting is a reflex controlled in part by a vomiting center in the brain. Vomiting can be triggered by smell, taste, anxiety, pain, motion, or changes in the body caused by inflammation, poor blood flow, or irritation to the stomach.
It is important nausea is controlled so that the patient can continue treatment and have a better quality of life.
It is very important to prevent and control nausea and vomiting in patients with cancer, so that they can continue treatment and perform activities of daily life. Nausea and vomiting that are not controlled can cause the following:
- Chemical changes in the body.
- Mental changes.
- Loss of appetite.
- A torn esophagus.
- Broken bones.
- Reopening of surgical wounds.
Different types of nausea and vomiting are caused by chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other conditions.
The types of nausea and vomiting include:
- Acute: Nausea and vomiting that happen within 24 hours after treatment starts.
- Delayed: Nausea and vomiting that happen more than 24 hours after chemotherapy. This is also called late nausea and vomiting.
- Anticipatory: Nausea and vomiting that happen before a chemotherapy treatment begins. If a patient has had nausea and vomiting after an earlier chemotherapy session, he or she may have anticipatory nausea and vomiting before the next treatment. This usually begins after the third or fourth treatment. The smells, sights, and sounds of the treatment room may remind the patient of previous times and may trigger nausea and vomiting before the chemotherapy session has even begun.
- Breakthrough: Nausea and vomiting that happen within 5 days after getting anti nausea treatment. Different drugs or doses are needed to prevent more nausea and vomiting.
- Refractory: Nausea and vomiting that does not respond to drugs.
- Chronic: Nausea and vomiting that lasts for a period of time after treatment ends.
Rachel Namery, MS
Manager of R&D, Formulator and Nutrition Coach
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