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Nausea and Vomiting (PDQ®)

Patient Version

Acute or Delayed Nausea and Vomiting

Acute and delayed nausea and vomiting are common in patients being treated for cancer.

Chemotherapy is the most common cause of nausea and vomiting that is related to cancer treatment.

How often nausea and vomiting occur and how severe they are may be affected by the following:

  • The specific drug.
  • The dose of the drug or if it is given with other drugs.
  • How often the drug is given.
  • The way the drug is given.
  • The individual patient.

Acute nausea and vomiting are more likely in patients who:

  • Have had nausea and vomiting after previous chemotherapy sessions.
  • Are female.
  • Drink little or no alcohol.
  • Are young.

Delayed nausea and vomiting are more likely in patients who:

  • Are receiving high-dose chemotherapy.
  • Are receiving chemotherapy two or more days in a row.
  • Have had acute nausea and vomiting with chemotherapy.
  • Are female.
  • Drink little or no alcohol.
  • Are young.

Acute and delayed nausea and vomiting are usually treated with drugs.

Acute and delayed nausea and vomiting are usually treated with antinausea drugs. Some types of chemotherapy are more likely to cause acute nausea and vomiting. Drugs may be given before each treatment to prevent nausea and vomiting. After chemotherapy, drugs may be given to prevent delayed vomiting. Some drugs last only a short time in the body and need to be given more often. Others last a long time and are given less often.

Ginger is being studied in the treatment of nausea and vomiting.

The following table shows drugs that are commonly used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatment:

Drugs Used to Treat Nausea and Vomiting Caused by Cancer Treatment
Drug NameType of Drug
Droperidol, haloperidol, metoclopramide, prochlorperazine and other phenothiazines Dopamine receptor antagonists
Dolasetron, granisetron, ondansetron, palonosetron Serotonin receptor antagonists
Aprepitant Substance P/NK-1 antagonists
Dexamethasone. methylprednisolone, dronabinol Corticosteroids
Cannabinoids
Marijuana, nabilone
Alprazolam, lorazepam, midazolam Benzodiazepines
Olanzapine Antipsychotic /monoamine antagonists
  • Updated: December 12, 2013