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Cancer Health Center

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Nausea and Vomiting (PDQ®): Supportive care - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Anticipatory Nausea and Vomiting (Emesis)


Variables Correlated with ANV

Many variables have been investigated as potential factors that correlate with the incidence of ANV in hopes of developing a list of risk factors. There is currently no agreement on which factors predict ANV. A patient with fewer than three of the first eight characteristics listed below, however, is unlikely to develop ANV, and screening following the first chemotherapy infusion could identify those patients at increased risk.[11]

Variables Found to Correlate With ANV

  1. Age younger than 50 years.
  2. N&V after last chemotherapy session.
  3. Posttreatment nausea described as moderate, severe, or intolerable.
  4. Posttreatment vomiting described as moderate, severe, or intolerable.
  5. Feeling warm or hot all over after last chemotherapy session.
  6. Susceptibility to motion sickness.
  7. Sweating after last chemotherapy session.
  8. Generalized weakness after last chemotherapy session.
  9. Female gender.
  10. High-state anxiety (anxiety reactive to specific situations).[12,13]
  11. Greater reactivity of the autonomic nervous system and slower reaction time.[14]
  12. Patient expectations of chemotherapy-related nausea before beginning treatment.[15,16]
  13. Percentage of infusions of chemotherapy followed by nausea.[17]
  14. Postchemotherapy dizziness.
  15. Lightheadedness.
  16. Longer latency of onset of posttreatment N&V.[18]
  17. Emetogenic potential of various chemotherapeutic agents. Patients receiving drugs with a moderate to severe potential for posttreatment N&V are more likely to develop ANV.[12]
  18. Morning sickness during pregnancy.

Treatment of ANV

Antiemetic drugs do not seem to control ANV once it has developed;[2] however, a variety of behavioral interventions have been investigated.[19] These include the following:

Progressive muscle relaxation with guided imagery, hypnosis, and systematic desensitization has been studied the most and is the recommended treatment. Referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional with specific training and experience in working with cancer patients is recommended when ANV is identified. The earlier ANV is identified, the more likely treatment will be effective; thus, early screening and referral are essential. However, physicians and nurses underestimate the incidence of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.[26][Level of evidence: II]


  1. Andrykowski MA: Defining anticipatory nausea and vomiting: differences among cancer chemotherapy patients who report pretreatment nausea. J Behav Med 11 (1): 59-69, 1988.
  2. Morrow GR, Roscoe JA, Kirshner JJ, et al.: Anticipatory nausea and vomiting in the era of 5-HT3 antiemetics. Support Care Cancer 6 (3): 244-7, 1998.
  3. Aapro MS, Kirchner V, Terrey JP: The incidence of anticipatory nausea and vomiting after repeat cycle chemotherapy: the effect of granisetron. Br J Cancer 69 (5): 957-60, 1994.
  4. Fernández-Marcos A, Martín M, Sanchez JJ, et al.: Acute and anticipatory emesis in breast cancer patients. Support Care Cancer 4 (5): 370-7, 1996.
  5. Roscoe JA, Morrow GR, Hickok JT, et al.: Nausea and vomiting remain a significant clinical problem: trends over time in controlling chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in 1413 patients treated in community clinical practices. J Pain Symptom Manage 20 (2): 113-21, 2000.
  6. Reesal RT, Bajramovic H, Mai F: Anticipatory nausea and vomiting: a form of chemotherapy phobia? Can J Psychiatry 35 (1): 80-2, 1990.
  7. Stockhorst U, Klosterhalfen S, Steingruber HJ: Conditioned nausea and further side-effects in cancer chemotherapy: a review. Journal of Psychophysiology 12 (suppl 1): 14-33, 1998.
  8. Morrow GR, Rosenthal SN: Models, mechanisms and management of anticipatory nausea and emesis. Oncology 53 (Suppl 1): 4-7, 1996.
  9. Montgomery GH, Bovbjerg DH: The development of anticipatory nausea in patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer. Physiol Behav 61 (5): 737-41, 1997.
  10. Bovbjerg DH, Redd WH, Jacobsen PB, et al.: An experimental analysis of classically conditioned nausea during cancer chemotherapy. Psychosom Med 54 (6): 623-37, 1992 Nov-Dec.
  11. Morrow GR, Roscoe JA, Hickok JT: Nausea and vomiting. In: Holland JC, Breitbart W, Jacobsen PB, et al., eds.: Psycho-oncology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp 476-484.
  12. Andrykowski MA, Redd WH, Hatfield AK: Development of anticipatory nausea: a prospective analysis. J Consult Clin Psychol 53 (4): 447-54, 1985.
  13. Roscoe JA, Morrow GR, Hickok JT, et al.: Biobehavioral factors in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2 (5): 501-8, 2004.
  14. Kvale G, Psychol C, Hugdahl K: Cardiovascular conditioning and anticipatory nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. Behav Med 20 (2): 78-83, 1994 Summer.
  15. Montgomery GH, Tomoyasu N, Bovbjerg DH, et al.: Patients' pretreatment expectations of chemotherapy-related nausea are an independent predictor of anticipatory nausea. Ann Behav Med 20 (2): 104-9, 1998 Spring.
  16. Shelke AR, Roscoe JA, Morrow GR, et al.: Effect of a nausea expectancy manipulation on chemotherapy-induced nausea: a university of Rochester cancer center community clinical oncology program study. J Pain Symptom Manage 35 (4): 381-7, 2008.
  17. Tomoyasu N, Bovbjerg DH, Jacobsen PB: Conditioned reactions to cancer chemotherapy: percent reinforcement predicts anticipatory nausea. Physiol Behav 59 (2): 273-6, 1996.
  18. Chin SB, Kucuk O, Peterson R, et al.: Variables contributing to anticipatory nausea and vomiting in cancer chemotherapy. Am J Clin Oncol 15 (3): 262-7, 1992.
  19. Carey MP, Burish TG: Etiology and treatment of the psychological side effects associated with cancer chemotherapy: a critical review and discussion. Psychol Bull 104 (3): 307-25, 1988.
  20. Lyles JN, Burish TG, Krozely MG, et al.: Efficacy of relaxation training and guided imagery in reducing the aversiveness of cancer chemotherapy. J Consult Clin Psychol 50 (4): 509-24, 1982.
  21. Redd WH, Andresen GV, Minagawa RY: Hypnotic control of anticipatory emesis in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy. J Consult Clin Psychol 50 (1): 14-9, 1982.
  22. Morrow GR, Morrell C: Behavioral treatment for the anticipatory nausea and vomiting induced by cancer chemotherapy. N Engl J Med 307 (24): 1476-80, 1982.
  23. Burish TG, Shartner CD, Lyles JN: Effectiveness of multiple muscle-site EMG biofeedback and relaxation training in reducing the aversiveness of cancer chemotherapy. Biofeedback Self Regul 6 (4): 523-35, 1981.
  24. Kolko DJ, Rickard-Figueroa JL: Effects of video games on the adverse corollaries of chemotherapy in pediatric oncology patients: a single-case analysis. J Consult Clin Psychol 53 (2): 223-8, 1985.
  25. Vasterling J, Jenkins RA, Tope DM, et al.: Cognitive distraction and relaxation training for the control of side effects due to cancer chemotherapy. J Behav Med 16 (1): 65-80, 1993.
  26. Grunberg SM, Deuson RR, Mavros P, et al.: Incidence of chemotherapy-induced nausea and emesis after modern antiemetics. Cancer 100 (10): 2261-8, 2004.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: 8/, 015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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