Many patients experience nausea and vomiting during cancer treatment. A number of things can trigger nausea and vomiting:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Pain
  • Kidney and liver problems
  • Some medicines such as narcotics
  • Infections of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Anticipation before an appointment

Antinausea medicines (called anti-emetics) are available to help control nausea and vomiting. Patients often start taking these medicines before radiation and chemotherapy.

Call the clinic or hospital right away if any of these symptoms occur:

  • Blood in the vomit
  • Medicine not kept down because of vomiting
  • Nausea that continues even when taking antinausea medicines
  • Severe stomach pain while vomiting
  • Uncontrolled, persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Vomit that shoots out for a distance (projectile vomiting)
  • Weakness or dizziness, along with nausea and vomiting

What patients can do:

  • Avoid eating and drinking one hour before and one hour after chemotherapy.
  • Avoid extremely hot or cold foods.
  • Avoid odors that trigger nausea.
  • Before starting chemotherapy infusion, relax in a quiet place for several minutes.
  • Check with the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking antinausea medicines.
  • Do not drive a car or operate any equipment when you are taking antinausea medicines.
  • Drink cool, clear fruit juices.
  • Eat and drink slowly so only small amounts are in the stomach at a time.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day so the stomach is not too full.
  • Eat dry toast or crackers to help ease nausea.
  • Rinse your mouth with water often.
  • Sit upright in a chair after eating.
  • Take deep breaths through the mouth.
  • Take your antinausea medicine as prescribed.
  • Talk with your health care provider about acupuncture as a way to reduce nausea and vomiting. The Linda B. and Robert B. Wiggins Wellness and Integrative Health Center offers this as a service for patients. 
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.

Nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment and recovery. The Wellness and Integrative Health Center offers Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) patients nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian. Call 801-587-4585 to make an appointment. Learn more in our video about Nutrition Services at HCI.


  • Avoid or limit foods with strong odors. Eat foods cold or at room temperature.
  • Eat dry, bland foods, such as crackers or toast, often. Limit fried or spicy foods.
  • Eat small, frequent meals slowly. Relax after meals to allow foods to digest.
  • Avoid your favorite foods when you feel nauseated. Eat them when you feel well.
  • After eating, loosen clothes, get fresh air, and don't lie down.
  • Ask your health care provider if any medicine(s) can help.
  • Try cleaning your mouth before eating.
  • If sweet foods do not taste good, try sour, bitter, or tart flavors.
  • Try adding lemon, lime, and orange to meals.
  • Use sugar-free lemon drops, gum, or mints.
  • Try eating with plastic utensils to reduce metallic tastes.

If you have a sore mouth or throat

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Using a straw may help.
  • Choose soft, moist foods.
  • Cook food until soft and tender.
  • Use cold foods to soothe a sore mouth or throat.
  • Avoid foods such as citrus fruits and juices, spicy or salty foods, and rough, coarse, or dry foods.
  • Rinse your mouth often to remove food and bacteria. Ask your dentist about cleaning products for the teeth and gums.
  • Ask your health care provider if any medicine(s) can help.