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Extreme sickness after chemotherapy

My wife goes on and on being sick after her chemotherapy. Can anyone help?

Your wife needs to talk to her chemotherapy doctor or nurse if she is being that sick. Some chemotherapy drugs do make people very sick but there are many anti sickness drugs that can help. Usually, sickness can be kept well under control. If your wife's anti sickness drugs are not working, it is important to telephone her chemotherapy clinic and tell the staff. She may need to be prescribed a different anti sickness drug or extra medicines.

If your wife has been given tablets to take at home she may not be absorbing them if she is being sick. So she may first need to have an injection of anti sickness drug to help stop her being sick.Then she will be able to start taking the tablets regularly. It may be possible for her to have the anti sickness drug through a pump or syringe driver home. This gives a small amount of the drug continuously.

It is particularly important to contact your wife's doctor if she is not able to drink and keep fluids down. If she develops dehydration, her specialist may want her to come into hospital for a couple of days and have a drip put up. This drip can give her the fluids she needs. She could also have anti sickness medicines through the drip.

You and your wife may find it helpful to be referred to a specialist nurse. These are nurses who can advise you on controlling symptoms that are caused by cancer or treatment. They can often come and visit you at home. Or there may be a specialist nurse attached to the cancer unit your wife attends. You and your wife can ask her doctor or nurse when you are there.

As your wife's chemotherapy makes her so sick, it is important for her to take her anti sickness drugs regularly from when she has her chemotherapy injections. If she takes the drugs only when she thinks she needs them, it may be too late and her vomiting may then get out of control. It is much easier to prevent sickness than to control it once it starts. You could both talk to her doctor or chemotherapy nurse about how long she should go on taking anti sickness medication after her chemotherapy injections. Usually people need them for 2 or 3 days.

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Updated: 25 April 2013