Nausea as a sentinel symptom for cytotoxic chemotherapy effects on the gut-brain axis among women receiving treatment for recurrent ovarian cancer: an exploratory analysis.
Support Care Cancer. 2016 Jan 8. Epub 2016 Jan 8. PMID: 26746209
Heidi S Donovan
PURPOSE: Nausea is a common and potentially serious effect of cytotoxic chemotherapy for recurrent ovarian cancer and may function as a sentinel symptom reflecting adverse effects on the gut-brain axis (GBA) more generally, but research is scant. As a first exploratory test of this GBA hypothesis, we compared women reporting nausea to women not reporting nausea with regard to the severity of other commonly reported symptoms in this patient population.
METHODS: A secondary analysis of data systematically collected from women in active chemotherapy treatment for recurrent ovarian cancer (n = 158) was conducted. The Symptom Representation Questionnaire (SRQ) provided severity ratings for 22 common symptoms related to cancer and chemotherapy. Independent sample t tests and regression analyses were used to compare women with and without nausea with regard to their experience of other symptoms.
RESULTS: Nausea was reported by 89 (56.2 %) women. Symptoms that were significantly associated with nausea in bivariate and regression analyses included abdominal bloating, bowel disturbances, dizziness, depression, drowsiness, fatigue, headache, lack of appetite, memory problems, mood swings, shortness of breath, pain, sleep disturbance, urinary problems, vomiting, and weight loss. Symptoms that were not associated with nausea included hair loss, numbness and tingling, sexuality concerns, and weight gain.
CONCLUSIONS: Nausea experienced during chemotherapy for recurrent ovarian cancer may be an indicator of broader effects on the gut-brain axis. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying these effects could lead to the development of novel supportive therapies to increase the tolerability and effectiveness of cancer treatment.