People with advanced cancer often have problems with feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting). These can be caused by treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy, cancer growth, blockage of the bowel or the location of the cancer. Nausea can usually be managed with medicines. Learn more about some things you can do to manage nausea and vomiting.
Many people talk about anticipatory nausea, the response your body learns when you know it is chemotherapy time again. Even if you are no longer having chemotherapy, you may still feel a surge of nausea if you’re going past the place where you were treated.
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Sometimes cancer in the abdominal area can cause the bowel to become blocked. This is called bowel obstruction. Because waste matter (faeces or poo) cannot pass through the bowel easily, symptoms may include feeling sick or vomiting. To relieve these symptoms, you may have a small, hollow tube (stent) put in that helps keep the bowel open. The stent is inserted through the rectum using a flexible tube called an endoscope.
Feeling nauseous may be a symptom of high levels of calcium in your blood (hypercalcaemia). If the cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells make the bone break down and release calcium into the blood. This can cause you to feel tired, thirsty and confused. Hypercalcaemia is more common in some types of advanced cancer. Drinking more water can help but you may also be given drugs to lower your calcium levels. These are called bisphosphonates, which are usually given through a drip into a vein.
Prof Nicholas Glasgow, Head, Calvary Palliative and End of Life Care Research Institute, ACT; Kathryn Bennett, Nurse Practitioner, Eastern Palliative Care Association Inc., VIC; Dr Maria Ftanou, Head, Clinical Psychology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Erin Ireland, Legal Counsel, Cancer Council NSW; Nikki Johnston, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, ACT; Judy Margolis, Consumer; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kate Reed- Cox, Nurse Practitioner, National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Helena Rodi, Project Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kaitlyn Thorne, Coordinator Cancer Support, 13 11 20, Cancer Council Queensland.
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