Anticipatory Nausea and Vomiting (ANV)

Anticipatory Nausea and Vomiting is a psychological response, which is triggered by objects, smell, taste and sounds that remind you of treatment. Cancer treatment results in nausea and vomiting. After frequent pairings of cancer treatment and the clinic's sights, smells, and sounds, the responses (nausea and vomiting) can be triggered in the absence of any treatment by the clinic's sights, smells, or sounds. 

Although it’s difficult to predict which patients will develop ANV, many factors seem to put some people at higher risk, including:

  • Being younger than 50 or female.
  • Experiencing nausea and vomiting after treatment, particularly if symptoms ranged between moderate and intolerable.
  • Experiencing generalised weakness, lightheadedness, dizziness or sweating after previous treatments.
  • Experiencing high levels of anxiety in reaction to specific situations. 

Some techniques can help decrease this response and the earlier you try these techniques the easier it is to help interrupt the pattern. Techniques focus on helping you relax more before treatment and enhance feelings of control. 

Relaxation techniques can help to lessen feelings of nausea, especially if used regularly. They can also help you to sleep and to control feelings of anxiety. There are many different ways to relax using music, deep breathing or imagery (visualisation of something pleasant: a special place, for example). Read our stress relief blog posts for more information and try these techniques below to decrease nausea: 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

A deep relaxation technique, based upon the simple practice of tensing, or tightening, one muscle group at a time followed by a relaxation phase. 

Follow these steps: 

  1. While inhaling, contract one muscle group (for example your upper thighs) for 5 -10 seconds, then exhale and suddenly release the tension in that muscle group.
  2. Give yourself 10 - 20 seconds to relax, and then move on to the next muscle group.
  3. While releasing the tension, try to focus on the changes you feel when the muscle group is relaxed. Imagery may be helpful in conjunction with the release of tension.
  4. Gradually work your way up the body contracting and relaxing each muscle group.


Some people gain relief from acupressure bands, which are available from chemists. These elasticated wrist bands have a button which presses on an acupuncture point (also called Neiguan) known to reduce nausea and vomiting. You can do this without an acupressure band, read 'The Neiguan Acupressure Point' blog post for more information.