Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Managing Chemotherapy Side Effect

Nausea / Vomiting and Chemotherapy
Hair Loss and Chemotherapy
Pain and Chemotherapy
Mucositis / Mouth Sores and Chemotherapy
Diarrhea and Chemotherapy
Constipation and Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy's Effects on Organs / Body Systems
Skin / Nails and Chemotherapy
Bone Marrow Suppression and Chemotherapy
Anemia and Chemotherapy
Infection and Chemotherapy
Blood Clots / Bruising and Chemotherapy
Appetite / Taste Changes and Chemotherap

Nausea / Vomiting and Chemotherapy

The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type of chemotherapy and the amount given. Anticipating and managing side effects can help to minimize them and provide the best possible experience for the person receiving chemotherapy.

What are the types of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy?

As each person's individual medical profile and diagnosis is different, so is his/her reaction to treatment. Side effects may be severe, mild, or absent. Be sure to discuss with your cancer care team any/all possible side effects of treatment before the treatment begins.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), based on the time when the side effects occur, the following are four types of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy to treat cancer:

What causes nausea and vomiting?

The brain controls nausea and vomiting. Nausea is controlled by autonomic nerves, which control involuntary bodily functions such as heartbeat and breathing. Various irritants such as smells, taste, anxiety, pain, motion, or digestive chemicals can trigger a vomiting center in the brain to initiate vomiting as a reflex. Many factors influence whether a person will experience nausea and vomiting. Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely to cause reactions than others. Females and persons under the age of 50 are more likely to experience nausea and vomiting. People who are prone to motion sickness or anxiety are more likely to react to chemotherapy with nausea and vomiting.

Managing nausea and vomiting:

Sometimes, a combination of antinausea drugs and alternative therapies will help to minimize nausea and vomiting. It is very important to maintain the proper electrolyte balance and to ensure that vomiting does not deplete the body of important nutrients. Report vomiting that lasts more than a day to your physician.

The NCI provides the following tips for dealing with nausea and vomiting:

Eating and drinking

Eating before treatment

Other Tips



Stanford Medicine Resources:

Footer Links: