Nausea occurs in 31% and vomiting in 20% of patients with an advanced stage of cancer. In addition, a lack of appetite (53%) and early satiety (23%) are relatively common. Nausea occurs in 25% of patients with heart failure and in 4% of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the last year before dying.

The prevalence depends greatly on gender, age, underlying disease and disease stage. Nausea and/or vomiting occur more frequently in female and younger cancer patients, and in those cancer patients that have a strong tendency to experience motion sickness or sea sickness. Nausea and/or vomiting are more common in patients with breast cancer, gynaecological tumours, pancreas or gastric cancer (especially in the presence of peritonitis carcinomatosa or obstruction) and relatively less common in patients with bronchial carcinoma and brain tumours.

Complaints of nausea and/or vomiting occur in 10-50% of patients using opioids, especially in the first week of treatment or the first days after an increase in dose.