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Oncology (Williston Park). 1993 Dec;7(12):83-9; discussion 93-4, 97.

Behavioral treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

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University of Rochester Cancer Center, New York.


Nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy most commonly occur after administration of the drug regimen, but a substantial proportion of patients also develop these symptoms in anticipation of treatment, after one or more courses of chemotherapy have been given. Currently available pharmacologic agents are unable to provide complete protection from either anticipatory or post-treatment nausea and emesis associated with cancer chemotherapy. Since anticipatory nausea and vomiting are believed to become conditioned responses through the learning process of classical conditioning, behavioral treatments may be particularly appropriate. Progressive muscle relaxation training is effective in preventing as well as decreasing the frequency of postchemotherapy nausea and vomiting, whereas systematic desensitization has been found to be more effective against anticipatory nausea and emesis. Hypnosis and cognitive distraction have been used mainly in children and adolescents.

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