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Chemotherapy Side Effects: Nausea and Vomiting

Why Chemotherapy Drugs Can Cause Nausea and Vomiting

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© American Cancer Society 2010

Chemotherapy drugs cause nausea and vomiting for a variety of reasons.

  • One reason is they irritate the lining of the stomach and duodenum (the first section of the small intestine). This stimulates certain nerves that activate the vomiting center (VC) and the chemoreceptor trigger zone (CTZ) in the brain which leads to vomiting.
  • Another way these areas of the brain can be activated is through obstruction (intestinal blockage), delayed gastric emptying, or inflammation -- all possible effects of chemotherapy.

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