Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 1545–1561 | Cite as

A novel prospective descriptive analysis of nausea and vomiting among patients receiving gastrointestinal radiation therapy

  • Michael Poon
  • Jonathan Hwang
  • Kristopher Dennis
  • Carlo DeAngelis
  • Liying Zhang
  • Hans Chung
  • Jordan Stinson
  • Shun Wong
  • Natalie Pulenzas
  • Edward Chow
Original Article



Nausea and vomiting are common side effects from radiotherapy that can interfere with gastrointestinal (GI) cancer patients’ quality of life (QOL). This study described the subjective experience of patients with radiation-induced nausea and vomiting (RINV) and its relation to QOL.


Forty-eight patients treated with abdominal radiotherapy alone or with concomitant chemoradiotherapy were followed in a prospective study. All episodes of nausea, vomiting, and antiemetic use were recorded daily for the treatment period and the week following completion of therapy. QOL was assessed weekly using the Functional Living Index—Emesis QOL Tool (FLIE) and the EORTC QLQ-C30 core questionnaire (C30).


In total, 351 episodes of nausea severity, duration, onset time, and 154 outcomes of vomiting onset times and contents were documented. The median nausea severity experienced per episode was 5 (on a scale from 1 to 10), and the most common durations of nausea were 30 min or less and constant nausea all day and night. The most common location of nausea was the abdomen. Longer nausea duration, great nausea severities, and the location of nausea experienced had significant adverse relationships to multiple QOL items on both the FLIE and the C30. In addition, the onset timing and number of vomiting episodes were related to the majority of all FLIE and QOL scores.


Patient’s subjective experiences of RINV directly correlated to the worsening of QOL outcomes. The identification and amelioration of these RINV experiences could improve QOL.


Radiotherapy-induced emesis Radiotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting Patient-reported outcomes 



We thank the generous support of Bratty Family Fund, Michael and Karyn Goldstein Cancer Research Fund, Joey and Mary Furfari Cancer Research Fund, Pulenzas Cancer Research Fund, Joseph and Silvana Melara Cancer Research Fund, and Ofelia Cancer Research Fund.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Poon
    • 1
  • Jonathan Hwang
    • 1
  • Kristopher Dennis
    • 2
    • 3
  • Carlo DeAngelis
    • 1
  • Liying Zhang
    • 1
  • Hans Chung
    • 1
  • Jordan Stinson
    • 1
  • Shun Wong
    • 1
  • Natalie Pulenzas
    • 1
  • Edward Chow
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Odette Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences CentreUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Division of Radiation OncologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Ottawa Hospital Research InstituteOttawaCanada
  4. 4.Department of Radiation Oncology, Odette Cancer CentreSunnybrook Health Sciences CentreTorontoCanada

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