This state-of-the-art review describes the development, over the past 12 years, of new agents for the control of chemotherapy- and radiotherapy- induced emesis. While the mechanism of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting is still not fully understood, significant progress in prevention of the symptoms has been achieved. The discovery that high-dose metoclopramide was very effective in antiemetic control ultimately led to the development of a new class of antiemetics, the 5-HT3 receptor antagonists, of which tropisetron is the most recent to be introduced. The emphasis of the review is on acute chemotherapy-induced emesis and includes current thinking on the influence of patient characteristics on the emetic outcome. The new 5-HT3 receptor antagonists do not demonstrate any of the distressing extrapyramidal reactions so frequently encountered with conventional antiemetics acting at dopamine receptor sites. Mild headache is the most characteristic side effect of this class of agents. The major advantages of the newer 5-HT3 receptor antagonists, such as tropisetron, over the conventional antiemetic regimens are convenience, flexibility and, above all, single-dose usage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas