Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV)

Chemotherapy is one of the most common and most effective treatments for many forms of cancer. However, it can also have a number of significant and unpleasant side effects, including nausea and vomiting. Roughly 75% of all cancer patients experience these symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting can develop in three main forms:

  • Acute – where it occurs less than 24 hours following chemotherapy treatment
  • Delayed – where it occurs between 1- and 5-days following chemotherapy treatment
  • Anticipatory – where unmanaged nausea and vomiting progresses until/prior to the next round of chemotherapy treatment

Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting can also be linked to a number of secondary symptoms, such as malnutrition, fatigue, loss of appetite, and diarrhoea.

Cause and treatment

Chemotherapy can put a lot of strain on the body by stimulating hormones and various receptors that can result in vomiting as a defence mechanism. Some chemotherapy drugs being linked to higher risks of inducing nausea and vomiting. These include:

  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Anthracyclines (e.g., doxorubicin, epirubicin)
  • Dacarbarbazine
  • The nitrosourea family (e.g., lomustine,carmustine, streptozotocin)
  • Platinum-based chemotherapy (e.g., cisplatin, carboplatin, oxaliplatin)

Extra medications, such as serotonin receptor antagonists, dexamethasone and aprepitant, and other anti-sickness medications, are often prescribed alongside chemotherapy treatments to counteract these side effects.

Medical Cannabis and Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

In cases where first-line treatment options are not effective, medical cannabis may be considered as an alternative treatment. There is some evidence to support the potential of cannabis-based medicines in reducing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and cancer.

Our specialist physicians are experienced in assessing individual cases and helping to determine whether medical cannabis could be an effective option.