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What Is Palonosetron?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Palonosetron is a medication a doctor may prescribe to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), a common complication for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. The patient receives the drug shortly before a dose of chemotherapy, and it will act in the long term to prevent delayed-onset CINV, keeping the patient more comfortable after chemotherapy sessions. Patients usually get their palonosetron in an infusion clinic from a doctor, nurse, or technician before the chemotherapy session begins.

This drug works by acting against certain serotonin receptors located near the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve controls vomiting, and when this drug is active, the patient will experience less nausea and vomiting, and should feel much more comfortable. It is among a class of drugs that all act in a similar way and tend to be highly effective. Doctors can prescribe palonosetron for a patient at the start of chemotherapy, or in response to particularly intense reactions to chemotherapy over the course of cancer treatment.

Patients may receive an oral tablet or intravenous infusion around half an hour to an hour before the chemotherapy begins. Some patients experience constipation, fatigue, and headaches while on palonosetron, although it can be difficult to differentiate between side effects from this drug and the chemotherapy medications. In rare cases, an allergic reaction can develop and patients may notice numbness, tingling, difficulty breathing, and redness around the injection site. If these symptoms appear, the patient should call for a doctor or nurse to get immediate treatment.

This drug is not recommended for patients who have had an allergic reaction to palonosetron or any other drug with the -setron ending, as these drugs are in the same class, and it is likely that they will also cause allergic responses. Any time a patient experiences a drug reaction, it is important to make sure it is noted in her records, to help other prescribing doctors identify risk factors before they provide medications to a patient. Pharmacists also keep detailed patient records so they can catch potential drug conflicts and other issues.

Taking antiemetic drugs can be beneficial during chemotherapy. It will increase quality of life and make the chemotherapy more tolerable, in addition to helping patients keep food down, addressing the weight loss and nutrition problems common with patients who vomit frequently during cancer treatment. Patients should discuss any chemotherapy side effects they experience, as it may be possible to treat them with medications, adjustments to dosing schedules, and other steps, making the cancer treatment more comfortable for the patient.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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