Doctors prescribe the chemotherapy drug carboplatin to treat a variety of cancers, including as a second-line treatment for mesothelioma. It is considered to be more physically tolerable than stronger chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin, resulting in less severe side effects.
Other names: Paraplatin, CBDCA
Manufactured by: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Hospira, others
Used or tested in: Lung cancer, mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.
Introduced in the late 1980s, this cancer drug is favored by many physicians because its side effects are much less severe than many other chemotherapeutic drugs, particularly cisplatin, which is the "parent" drug of carboplatin (meaning that carboplatin is a modified form of cisplatin). Carboplatin is most commonly used to treat ovarian, lung, head, and neck cancers, but has also shown some success in treating mesothelioma.
Chemotherapeutic drugs are designed to kill cancer cells. Carboplatin works by breaching the cellular wall and binding to the cell's DNA, preventing the cell from dividing and functioning normally, which eventually kills the cell. These drugs target cancer cells because they are attracted only to cells that divide rapidly.
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Carboplatin chemotherapy is typically administered on an out-patient basis at a hospital or treatment center. The medication is given intravenously, usually once every 28 days. In cases where a patient with mesothelioma requires more frequent chemotherapy, or where carboplatin treatment is combined with other treatments or drugs, it may be administered on an in-patient basis, requiring a stay of two or more consecutive days in the hospital.
Anyone with kidney disease is discouraged from seeking treatment with carboplatin. It should be noted that the drug, like most chemotherapy drugs, is harmful to unborn babies. Thus, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use it.
Side effects of carboplatin are typically less severe than those associated with most other chemotherapeutic agents.
Increased tendency for bruising or bleeding (due to poor clotting)
Those treated with carboplatin for mesothelioma typically experience reduced immune system function and become more prone to infection. This means even a cold may be dangerous to a patient receiving this treatment. Anyone receiving treatment with carboplatin should avoid contact with people who have colds or other infections.
A potentially serious side effect is kidney damage. The symptoms of kidney damage usually include pain or difficulty in urinating, or the appearance of blood in the urine.
The appearance of any side effects, whether mild or serious, should be discussed with a doctor as soon as they arise. A cancer doctor may be able to prescribe medication to help alleviate certain side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. To avoid potential life-threatening complications, anyone who is taking carboplatin should seek medical advice if they contract any kind of infection or experience fever, chills, rash, or sore throat.
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