Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond
Trade name: Paraplatin
Carboplatin is an anticancer drug ("antineoplastic" or "cytotoxic") chemotherapy
drug. Carboplatin is classified as an "alkylating agent."
What Carboplatin Is Used For:
- Carboplatin is used to treat ovarian cancer.
- Carboplatin is also used for other types of cancer, including lung, head and neck,
endometrial, esophageal, bladder, breast, and cervical; central nervous system or
germ cell tumors; osteogenic sarcoma; and as preparation for a stem cell or bone
Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use
this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.
How Carboplatin Is Given:
- Carboplatin is usually given by infusion into a vein (intravenous, IV).
- Carboplatin can also be given intra-peritoneal, directly into the peritoneal cavity
in the abdomen.
- The amount of Carboplatin you receive depends on many factors, including your height
and weight, your general health or other health problems, and how your body responds
to it. Your doctor will determine your dose and schedule.
Carboplatin Side Effects:
Important things to remember about the side effects of Carboplatin:
- Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed.
- Side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration.
- Side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after treatment is complete.
- There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects.
- There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side effects and the
effectiveness of Carboplatin.
- The side effects of Carboplatin and their severity depend on how much of Carboplatin
is given. In other words, high doses may produce more severe side effects).
The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients
Nadir: Meaning low point,
nadir is the point in time between chemotherapy cycles in which you experience low
Onset: None reported
Nadir: 21 days
Recovery: 28 days
These are less common (occurring in 10-29%) side effects for patients receiving
- Burning sensation at the injection site
- Abdominal pain
- Mouth sores
- Peripheral neuropathy: Although uncommon, a serious side effect of decreased sensation
and paresthesia (numbness and tingling of the extremities) may be noted. Sensory
loss, numbness and tingling, and difficulty in walking may last for at least as
long as therapy is continued. These side effects may become progressively more severe
with continued treatment, and your doctor may decide to decrease your dose.
- Central neurotoxicity: Infrequent but patients over age 65 are at increased
risk. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion, visual changes, ringing in the
- Nephrotoxicity (see kidney problems): More frequent when Carboplatin is given
in high doses or to people with kidney problems.
- Hearing loss (ototoxicity) - loss of high pitched sounds.
- Abnormal blood electrolyte levels (sodium, potassium, calcium).
- Abnormal blood liver enzymes (SGOT, Alkaline phosphatase) (see liver problems).
- Cardiovascular events. Although infrequent, heart failure, blood clots and
strokes have been reported with Carboplatin use. Less than 1% were life-threatening.
- Allergic reaction may occur. It would occur during the actual transfusion.
This may include itching, rash, shortness of breath or dizziness (especially in
patients who have received cisplatin).
Not all side effects are listed above, some that are rare (occurring in less than
10% of patients) are not listed here. However, you should always inform your
health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.
When To Contact Your Doctor or Health Care Provider:
Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience
any of the following symptoms:
- Fever of 100.4(F (38(C) or higher, or chills (possible signs of infection).
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency.
Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stools or urine
- Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period)
- Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medications).
- Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24-hour period)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Lip or mouth sores (painful redness, swelling or ulcers)
- Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
- Muscle cramps or twitching
- Change in hearing
- Dizziness, confusion or visual changes
Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.
- Before starting Carboplatin treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any
other medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins,
herbal remedies, etc. Do not take aspirin, products containing aspirin
unless your doctor specifically permits this.
- Carboplatin may be inadvisable if you have a history of severe allergic reaction
to cisplatin, Carboplatin, other platinum-containing formulations or mannitol.
- Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without your doctor's approval
while taking Carboplatin.
- Decreased sensation, numbness and tingling in fingers and toes may become progressively
worse with repeated doses of Carboplatin. It is important to report this to
- Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior
to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category D (Carboplatin may be hazardous to
the fetus. Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be advised of the
potential hazard to the fetus).
- For both men and women: Do not conceive a child (get pregnant) while taking Carboplatin.
Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, are recommended. Discuss with
your doctor when you may safely become pregnant or conceive a child after therapy.
- Do not breast feed while taking Carboplatin.
Carboplatin Self Care Tips:
- Drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you are instructed
- You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people with colds, and
report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your health care provider.
- Wash your hands often.
- To help treat/prevent mouth sores, use a soft toothbrush, and rinse three times
a day with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking soda and/or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt mixed
with 8 ounces of water.
- Use an electric razor and a soft toothbrush to minimize bleeding.
- Avoid contact sports or activities that could cause injury.
- To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and
eat small, frequent meals.
- Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
- In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided
completely. You should discuss this with your doctor.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Maintain good nutrition.
- If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health
care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that
are effective in managing such problems.
Monitoring and Testing While Taking Carboplatin:
- You will be monitored regularly by your doctor while you are taking Carboplatin.
Tests will include complete blood counts, electrolytes, kidney function tests and
- Because drug toxicity is seen as numbness and tingling of fingers and toes, a periodic
physical examination, which includes a check of your reflexes, is necessary to detect
the need for decreased dosages.
How Carboplatin Works:
Cancerous tumors are characterized by cell division, which is no longer controlled
as it is in normal tissue. "Normal" cells stop dividing when they come
into contact with like cells, a mechanism known as contact inhibition. Cancerous
cells lose this ability. Cancer cells no longer have the normal checks and
balances in place that control and limit cell division. The process of cell
division, whether normal or cancerous cells, is through the cell cycle. The
cell cycle goes from the resting phase, through active growing phases, and then
to mitosis (division).
The ability of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells depends on its ability to halt
cell division. Usually, the drugs work by damaging the RNA or DNA that tells
the cell how to copy itself in division. If the cells are unable to divide,
they die. The faster the cells are dividing, the more likely it is that chemotherapy
will kill the cells, causing the tumor to shrink. They also induce cell suicide
(self-death or apoptosis).
Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells only when they are dividing are called cell-cycle
specific. Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells when they are at rest are called
cell-cycle non-specific. The scheduling of chemotherapy is set based on the
type of cells, rate at which they divide, and the time at which a given drug is
likely to be effective. This is why chemotherapy is typically given in cycles.
Chemotherapy is most effective at killing cells that are rapidly dividing.
Unfortunately, chemotherapy does not know the difference between the cancerous cells
and the normal cells. The "normal" cells will grow back and be healthy but in the
meantime, side effects occur. The "normal" cells most commonly affected by
chemotherapy are the blood cells, the cells in the mouth, stomach and bowel, and
the hair follicles; resulting in low blood counts, mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea,
and/or hair loss. Different drugs may affect different parts of the body.
Chemotherapy (anti-neoplastic drugs) is divided into five classes based on how they
work to kill cancer. Although these drugs are divided into groups, there is
some overlap among some of the specific drugs. The following are the types
Alkylating agents are most active in the resting phase of the cell. These
drugs are cell-cycle non-specific. There are several types of alkylating agents.
- Mustard gas derivatives: Mechlorethamine, Cyclophosphamide, Chlorambucil,
Melphalan, and Ifosfamide.
- Ethylenimines: Thiotepa and Hexamethylmelamine.
- Alkylsulfonates: Busulfan.
- Hydrazines and Triazines: Procarbazine, Dacarbazine and Temozolomide.
- Nitrosureas: Carmustine, Lomustine and Streptozocin. Nitrosureas are
unique because, unlike most chemotherapy, they can cross the blood-brain barrier.
They can be useful in treating brain tumors.
- Metal salts: Carboplatin, Cisplatin, and Oxaliplatin.
Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional
about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained
in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute
for medical advice.
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