Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

What is chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting?

Chemotherapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for a wide variety of cancers and it can be highly effective. However, it also comes with a range of unpleasant side effects, including chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Roughly 75% of all cancer patients experience these side effects. 

It comes in five different forms: 

  • Acute, where it occurs less than 24 hours after chemotherapy
  • Delayed, where it occurs between one to five days after chemotherapy
  • Anticipatory, which refers to chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting that progresses unhindered until the next round of chemotherapy
  • Breakthrough, where  it occurs despite treatment
  • Refractory, where it occurs during subsequent cycles of chemotherapy when antiemetics have failed in earlier cycles

What are the symptoms of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting?

The key symptoms of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting are of course the nausea and vomiting themselves. However, they can also have a variety of knock-on symptoms as well. These include:

  • Sweating
  • Malnutrition
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea

What causes chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting?

There are specific types of chemotherapy drugs that induce nausea and vomiting at a higher risk. These include:

  • Anthracyclines, such as doxorubicin and epirubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Dacarbarbazine
  • The nitrosourea family, such as lomustine, carmustine, and streptozotocin
  • Platinum-based chemotherapy, such as cisplatin, carboplatin, and oxaliplatin

The reason they trigger nausea and vomiting is that they stimulate hormones and different receptors in the body that result in vomiting coming about as a defence mechanism. The body is responding to certain chemicals in the medications that cause nausea as a side effect.


What treatment options are available for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting?

Oncological experts and doctors often prescribe extra medications to counteract chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. These include:

  • Serotonin receptor antagonists, such as ondansetron, granisetron, palonosetron
  • Dexamethasone and aprepitant
  • Other classes of anti-sickness medications, including over-the-counter medication
  • Natural remedies, such as ginger

It can also be useful to try out different behavioural practices, such as avoiding particularly rich or spicy foods, or certain foods and drinks that may trigger nausea. These trigger foods can be different from person to person, so it’s also handy to keep a food diary so you can track what foods cause different reactions in the body.


How can medical cannabis help with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting?

Considering how important it is for cancer patients to have energy and retain nutrients from their food, it’s vital to do everything we can to combat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Medical cannabis is an alternative route for cancer patients that has been known to help.

This study from 2015, ‘Cannabis-based medicine for nausea and vomiting in people treated with chemotherapy for cancer’, by L.A. Smith, F.Azariah, V.T.C. Lavender, N.S. Stoner, and S. Bettiol showed a decrease in symptoms of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It was especially effective in patients with low to moderate levels of nausea and vomiting.

The Medical Cannabis Clinics’ team is dedicated to raising awareness about how medical cannabis can help with a range of health problems, including chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Your prescription can be tailored to suit your individual circumstances and needs, with ongoing support and adjustments made as necessary.

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, we offer personalised treatment plans and private care for patients through online video link consultations with our expert specialist doctors, who will guide you through the treatment options available from the clinic.

Appointments start from just £70. Book a private consultation today and one of our expert specialist doctors will be able to offer you targeted advice and treatment plans, unique to your needs and symptoms.

Book a consultation with a specialist

calendar icon

Book an appointment

Book an appointment in just a few minutes with a date and time that suits you.

doctor design

Meet your specialist doctor

You’ll be sent a private online video link to talk to your selected doctor in confidence.

bottle design

Receive your prescription

If you receive a prescription from the doctor, we'll send it to a local pharmacy, or one of your choice. Your medication will be delivered to you (UK only).

New patient enquiry Book an appointment
Appointments available in July. Book a video consultation. Speak to an expert specialist.