What Type of Cancer Causes Nausea and Vomiting?

Reviewed on 1/20/2021

What are gastrointestinal symptoms of cancer?

Lots of types of cancers can cause nausea and vomiting, like any tumors that affect the digestive tract such as stomach, esophageal and colon cancer. Brain cancer that encroaches on areas of the neural anatomy responsible for regulating digestion or other cancers in the abdomen that can metastasize to or press on the GI tract may cause nausea as well. Treatments for cancer may also cause gastrointestinal side effects, independent of the type of cancer.
Lots of types of cancers can cause nausea and vomiting, like any tumors that affect the digestive tract such as stomach, esophageal and colon cancer. Brain cancer that encroaches on areas of the neural anatomy responsible for regulating digestion or other cancers in the abdomen that can metastasize to or press on the GI tract may cause nausea as well. Treatments for cancer may also cause gastrointestinal side effects, independent of the type of cancer.

Nausea and vomiting can be symptoms of cancer itself, and they can also be symptoms of cancer treatment. 

Not everyone who gets cancer or cancer treatments will experience nausea and/or vomiting. The occurrence of these symptoms depends on the type of cancer, the type of treatment being given, and the dose of the treatment.

What Types of Cancers Can Cause Nausea and Vomiting?

Nausea and vomiting are more likely to occur due to tumors in the digestive tract, such as in the: 

Certain types of cancers that result in tumors in the lining the abdominal cavity can also cause nausea and vomiting because they can affect digestion, such as:

Brain tumors can increase pressure in the brain, which can induce nausea and vomiting. This can occur due to primary brain tumors that form inside the brain, and metastatic brain tumors, which originate in other parts of the body and spread to the brain, such as lung, breast, and kidney cancers, as well as melanoma (a type of skin cancer).

What Causes Nausea and Vomiting in Cancer Patients?

Nausea and vomiting in cancer patients can have many possible causes, such as: 

  • The cancer itself, especially cancer that occurs in or affects the abdomen or brain 
  • Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Constipation
  • Inner ear problems
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Infections
  • Anxiety
  • Anticipatory vomiting, which is the expectation of vomiting because vomiting has occurred before in the same setting 
  • Other co-existing diseases or illnesses
  • Other medicines given for health problems that are not cancer-related

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Reviewed on 1/20/2021
References
https://blog.dana-farber.org/insight/2017/12/nausea-sign-cancer/

https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/nausea-and-vomiting/what-is-it.html