• Using data from the National Hospice Study, nausea and vomiting in terminal cancer patients and physician response to these symptoms were studied. Nausea and vomiting developed in 62% of terminal cancer patients with prevalence rates of at least 40% during the last six weeks of life. Stomach and breast cancer were significantly more likely to be associated with nausea and vomiting; lung and brain primary sites were significantly less likely to have this association. Although women and younger patients reported higher rates, no relationship could be demonstrated between these symptoms and the Karnofsky level or chemotherapy during the last six weeks of life. In the subsample for whom medication use was known, 32% of nauseated patients received antiemetic prescriptions. Physicians were less likely to prescribe antiemetics for elderly patients and those with serious mental impairment. When prescribed, 72% of nauseated patients consumed antiemetics.
(Arch Intern Med 1986;146:2021-2023)