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    Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the most common causes of nausea and vomiting in patients being treated for cancer.

    Nausea is controlled by a part of the central nervous system that controls involuntary body functions (like the heart beating). Vomiting is a reflex controlled by a vomiting center in the brain. Vomiting can be triggered by smell, taste, anxiety, pain, motion, poor blood flow, irritation, or changes in the body caused by inflammation.

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    The most common causes of nausea and vomiting are:

    • Chemotherapy.
    • Radiation therapy to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, liver, or brain.

    Many factors increase the risk for nausea and vomiting.

    Nausea and vomiting are more likely if the patient:

    • Had severe or frequent periods of nausea and vomiting after past chemotherapy sessions.
    • Is female.
    • Is younger than 50 years.
    • Has a fluid and/or electrolyte imbalance (dehydration, too much calcium in the blood, or too much fluid in the body's tissues).
    • Has a tumor in the GI tract, liver, or brain.
    • Has constipation.
    • Is receiving certain drugs, such as opioids (pain medicine).
    • Has an infection or blood poisoning.
    • Has kidney disease.
    • Has anxiety.

      WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

      Last Updated: February 25, 2014
      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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