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Nausea and Vomiting as Symptoms of Colon Cancer


Updated: January 3, 2008

Nausea and vomiting can occur for a lot of reasons. Motion sickness, an unpleasant sight or smell, a slew of common viruses, and drinking too much are all familiar causes. But sometimes, nausea and vomiting can be symptoms of something more serious, such as colon cancer.

Nausea and Vomiting as Symptoms of Cancer

The occurrence of nausea and vomiting alone, without other colon cancer symptoms, is unlikely an indication of cancer. There are lots of reasons for feeling sick and throwing up. But if nausea and vomiting are accompanied by pain or constipation, colon cancer could be a cause.

When nausea and vomiting are symptoms of colon cancer, it's usually because a tumor is causing a bowel obstruction. Depending on the severity of the blockage, solids, liquids, and even gas may be prevented from passing through the colon. This can lead to painful stomach cramps and constipation. Either of these symptoms can result in nausea and vomiting.

Medical Attention for Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea is unpleasant and can be a sign of an underlying illness. If you often feel nauseated, it would be a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor and try to pinpoint the reason. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), if you're having a prolonged bout of nausea and aren't pregnant, you should seek emergency medical attention.

We all get upset stomachs from time to time, but severe bouts of vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration and dangerous electrolyte imbalances that require the administration of IV fluids. The NIH says adults should seek emergency medical attention if:

  • They've been vomiting for more than 24 hours.
  • They've been unable to keep fluids down for a 12-hour period.
  • Vomiting is recurrent.
  • There's blood or bile (green liquid) in their vomit.
  • They have severe stomach cramps, a headache, or a stiff neck.
  • They show signs of dehydration.

Signs of dehydration include increased thirst, decreased skin elasticity, dry mouth, sunken eyes, crying without tears, infrequent urination, and dark yellow urine.

Related Articles:


"Medical Encyclopedia: Nausea and Vomiting." National Institutes of Health 25 Jul. 2007. Accessed 26 Dec. 2007 [http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003117.htm].

"Nausea and Vomiting." National Cancer Institute 9 Nov. 2006. Accessed 26 Dec. 2007 [http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/nausea/Patient/page3/print].

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