Nausea and Vomiting as Major Complications of Cancer Chemotherapy

Summary

Significant advances in the treatment of certain disseminated malignancies have been accompanied by an increased awareness of the consequences of inadequate antiemetic therapy. Nausea and vomiting are predisposing factors to patient non-compliance with treatment regimens and impose mental and physical suffering that diminishes the quality of life. The extent of medical complications associated with vomiting depends on its severity and duration and can include oesophageal tears, bone fractures, malnutrition and major metabolic derangements.

The pharmacological management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting is influenced by the aetiology and mechanism as well as whether therapy is to take place in the hospital or outpatient setting. No single drug is successful in all cases. Side effects due to antiemetic drugs also limit their usefulness.

Major treatment alternatives at present include the phenothiazines, antihistamines, benzquinamide derivatives, butyrophenones such as haloperidol, the dopamine receptor antagonist domperidone, and metoclopramide. Cannabinoids, particularly Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and nabilone have stimulated considerable research interest. Studies of the role of high dose corticosteroids either alone or in combination with other antiemetics have also been undertaken.

Newer chemotherapeutic regimens are more emetic than in the past. Inadequate management of nausea and vomiting is deleterious to the health and well-being of patients and any delay in providing an aggressive therapeutic approach aggravates the problem. This symposium is designed to provide some answers to this therapeutic problem.

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Correspondence to John Laszlo.

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Laszlo, J. Nausea and Vomiting as Major Complications of Cancer Chemotherapy. Drugs 25, 1–7 (1983). https://doi.org/10.2165/00003495-198300251-00002

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Keywords

  • Cancer Chemotherapy
  • Domperidone
  • Prochlorperazine
  • Antiemetic Drug
  • Nabilone