Generic Name: Carboplatin (kar-boe-PLAT-in)
Trade Name: Paraplatin®
For which conditions is this drug approved? Carboplatin is FDA approved for advanced ovarian cancer as initial treatment in combination with other chemotherapy agents, and as treatment for recurrent ovarian cancer. It is important for patients to remember that physicians have the ability to prescribe medication for conditions other than those for which the drug has been approved by the FDA. Patients who have received a prescription of this drug for a condition other than which it is approved may wish to discuss this issue with their physician.
What is the mechanism of action? Carboplatin belongs to a group of drugs referred to as alkylating agents. Carboplatin produces its anti-cancer effects by binding to DNA and causing a reaction that damages the DNA in a cell. The DNA damage caused by carboplatin results in cell death.
How is carboplatin typically given (administered)? Carboplatin is most often given intravenously (into a vein). The way in which carboplatin is administered, as well as dosing and schedules is dependent upon many factors, including the condition being treated, the overall medical condition of the patient, the patient’s tolerance of treatment, the patient’s height and weight and the particular regimen being utilized.
How are patients typically monitored? Patients will usually have scheduled meetings with their healthcare provider while they are being treated with carboplatin. Typically, blood will be drawn to check levels of blood cells and electrolytes, and to monitor functions of some organ systems, such as the kidneys or liver. Patients may also undergo physical examinations, scans or other measures to assess side effects and response to therapy. A neurologic exam including testing reflexes will be performed, as carboplatin may result in loss of sensation in hands, feet or extremities, or may result in loss of some hearing.
Uncommonly, patients experience a type of allergic reaction to carboplatin. Patients will be closely monitored for this, but should notify their healthcare provider immediately if they experience difficulty breathing, tightness of throat or chest, rash, hives, itching and/or lightheadedness.
What are the common (occur in 30% or more of patients) side effects of treatment with carboplatin?
• Low white blood cell levels – increases risk of infection
• Low red blood cell levels – increases risk of anemia and transfusions
• Low platelet levels – increases risk of bleeding
• Nausea and vomiting
• Abnormal levels of electrolytes (magnesium) as determined by blood tests
• Hair loss
• Generalized weakness
What are the less common (occur in 10% to 29% of patients) side effects of treatment with carboplatin?
• Numbness or tingling of hands, feet or extremities
• Mouth sores
• Abdominal pain
• Abnormalities in hearing
• Abnormal liver function levels as determined by blood tests
• Abnormal kidney function as determined by blood tests
• Abnormal electrolyte levels as determined by blood tests
This is not a complete list of side effects. Some patients may experience other side effects that are not listed here. Patients may wish to discuss with their physician the other less common side effects of this drug, some of which may be serious.
Some side effects may require medical attention. Other side effects do not require medical attention and may go away during treatment. Patients should check with their physician about any side effects that continue or are bothersome.
What can patients do to help alleviate or prevent discomfort and side effects?
• Pay careful attention to the physician’s instructions and inform the physician of any side effects.
• Maintain adequate rest and nutrition.
• If possible, avoid large crowds or people who are sick or not feeling well, as this drug may leave some patients susceptible to infection.
• Wash hands often to reduce the risk of infection.
• Avoid activities that may cause injury or bruising.
• Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor to prevent cuts on the mouth or skin.
• For mouth sores, patients should rinse their mouth three times a day with a salt and soda solution (8 ounces of water mixed with ½ to 1 tsp baking soda and/or ½ to 1 tsp salt) and brush their teeth with a soft toothbrush to help prevent the development of mouth sores.
Are there any special precautions patients should be aware of before starting treatment?
• Patients should inform their physician if they are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a family in the near future. This drug may cause birth defects. It is important to use some kind of birth control while undergoing treatment. Also, patients may want to talk to their physician if they are considering having children in the future, since some drugs may cause fertility problems.
• It is important that patients inform their physician of any pre-existing conditions (chicken pox, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease, etc.) as they may worsen with this drug.
• Patients should inform their physician of any other medication they are taking (whether prescription or over-the-counter, including vitamins, herbs, etc.) as they may interfere with treatment.
• Patients should check with their physician before starting any new drug or nutritional supplement.
• Patients should inform their physician of any known drug or food allergies or any reactions to medications they have experienced in the past.
When should patients notify their physician?
• Sore throat
• Flu or cold-like symptoms
• Signs of infection – redness, swelling, pus, tenderness, painful or frequent urination
• Excessive, persistent fatigue
• Unexplained bleedings (nosebleeds, blood in the urine, black tarry stools, bruising, etc.)
• Mouth sores
• Yellowing of the skin or eyes
• Allergic reaction symptoms (rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, tightness of throat or chest)
• Changes in hearing or vision
• Confusion, dizziness
• Sudden headache
• Difficulty speaking or swallowing
• Swelling of ankles, feet or face
• Swelling, redness or pain of just one extremity
• Severe abdominal pain
• Prolonged constipation
• Persistent or extreme diarrhea
• Numbness or tingling of fingers, toes or extremities
• Persistent nausea and vomiting
• Muscle cramps
What is a package insert?
A package insert is required by the FDA and contains a summary of the essential scientific information needed for the safe and effective use of the drug for healthcare providers and consumers. A package insert typically includes information regarding specific indications, administration schedules, dosing, side effects, contraindications, results from some clinical trials, chemical structure, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of the specific drug. By carefully reviewing the package insert, you will get the most complete and current information about how to safely use this drug. If you do not have the package insert for the drug you are using, your pharmacist or physician may be able to provide you with a copy.
Copyright © 2010 CancerConnect Last updated 07/10.
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