It is common knowledge that cancer treatments chemotherapy, radiation,
and surgery - have specific side effects that lower a patient's quality
of life. All three major cancer treatments have a common side effect,
nausea and vomiting. Cancer patients, when surveyed, placed nausea and
vomiting among a list of the most disturbing effects of cancer therapy.
As one might expect, there are three types of nausea and vomiting corresponding
to the three major forms of cancer treatment.
The first type is called Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV), which stems from the potent, toxic drugs pumped into your body to kill
cancerous and non-cancerous cells. CINV comes in three forms, acute, delayed,
and anticipatory CINV. Roughly 70-80% of chemotherapy patients experience
CINV, and around 50% of chemotherapy patients have to refuse chemotherapy
due to the severe nausea and vomiting patients experience.
The second type is called Radiation-Induced Nausea and Vomiting (RINV), which is most likely the result of adverse cellular reactions to the
powerful gamma rays and X-rays directed at tumors.
The third type, a least common type of nausea, is called Post-Operative
Nausea and Vomiting (PONV), which is a result of complex invasive procedures that usually accompany
cancer-related surgeries. Thankfully, all three conditionsCINV, RINV,
and PONVcan be treated.
The most effective, promising form of treatment for cancer-related nausea
and vomiting is antiemetics, drugs specifically designed to stop nausea
and vomiting. There are several different types of antiemetics that cater
to a patient's current form of cancer treatment. After informing your
doctor of your symptoms, they will try to find the best combination of
antiemetic and cancer drug/treatment to maximize results and reduce side
effects. Antiemetics can be taken orally, intravenously, or via injection.
In many cases, a combination of different antiemetics produces excellent
results for suffering patients.
There are several classes of antiemetics including antihistamines, benzamides,
benzodiazepines, butyrophenones, cannabinoids, corticosteroids, neurokinin-1-receptor
antagonists, phenothiazines, and serotonin antagonists. Some common antiemetics
include Emend, Anzemet, Kytril, Zofran, Aloxi, Compazine, Anergan, Phenergan,
Ativan, Reglan, Decadron, Pepcid, and Zantac. To learn more about the
different classes and brand names of antiemetics visit www.cancernausea.com.
Another common antiemetic is Marinol, a cannabinoid used to relieve nausea
as well as increase the appetites of patients who have experienced a major
appetite loss from treatment and side effects. To learn more about Marinol,
The type of antiemetic you should take will depend upon the stage of cancer
treatment, degree of treatment (high, medium, or low), and how your body
reacts to certain medications. Ask your doctor about which antiemetics
will work the best for your specific case.
There are several ways to stunt nausea and vomiting from cancer therapy
other than antiemetics. Drinking fluids is already recommended for most
chemotherapy patients. Extra hydration will help minimize stomach pain;
however, fluids should be avoided during meals to prevent vomiting. Some
eating hints for a patient experiencing nausea and vomiting include eating
small amounts, eating before you get hungry, eating dry foods in the morning,
avoiding fatty, greasy meals, and avoid eating your favorite foods so
that those foods will still be your favorite once the nausea subsides.
Other than nutrition, controlling your surroundings can also help your
stomach pains. Some tips include avoiding strong odors, trying to rest
by sitting up or reclining, never laying down flat for at least 2 hours
after meals, avoiding exercise after meals, and wearing looser clothing.