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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Nausea and Vomiting, Version 1.2016

What cancer treatments can

cause nausea and vomiting?

People with cancer are at risk of having side effects

like nausea and vomiting from radiation or systemic

therapy. For example, radiation therapy to the upper

abdomen or whole body can cause nausea and


Systemic therapy travels throughout your body to

treat cancer cells. Some types can cause nausea

and vomiting. The systemic therapies that can

cause these side effects are chemotherapy, targeted

therapy, and immunotherapy.

Below is a list of cancer treatments that can cause

nausea and vomiting:

Radiation therapy

uses high-energy particles or

rays to kill cancer cells.


includes drugs that disrupt the

life cycle of cancer cells.

Targeted therapy

seeks out and blocks how

cancer cells grow and move in the body.


is designed to boost immune

activity. It helps the immune system find and

attack cancer cells.

Whether given alone or together, these treatments

can cause nausea and vomiting. These side effects

can happen before, during, or after treatment.



What cancer treatments can cause nausea and vomiting?

The risk of nausea and


NCCN experts create treatment guidelines for

doctors to use when preparing a treatment plan.

Chemotherapy drugs can be put into 4 groups

and used for this plan. These groups tell the

doctor how likely the drug is to cause nausea and


Chemotherapy drugs that cause nausea and

vomiting are grouped as:


High risk


Moderate risk


Low risk


Minimal risk

It is important for your doctor to understand

the risk of nausea and vomiting for each type

of cancer drug you get. The doctor can plan to

prevent it by checking the level of risk. He or she

will also look at what other causes could put you at

risk for nausea and vomiting. The other causes are

discussed in

Part 1, Nausea and Vomiting