Cisplatin, which was approved for use by the FDA in 1978, is a member of the family of chemotherapy drugs known as platinum-containing compounds or alkylating agents. It was the first member of its class of drugs and is often used in tandem with other chemotherapy drugs. Currently, cisplatin is used in conjunction with Alimta, the only FDA-approved chemotherapy drug recommended for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma when surgery is not an option. Historically, it has been used to treat testicular, bladder, ovarian, lung, and stomach cancers.

Since the drug is almost 30 years old, it tends to carry more severe side effects than most new chemotherapy drugs. That’s why it’s important to diligently monitor any side effects you experience while being treated with cisplatin.

Treatment with Cisplatin

Cisplatin is given by injection into the vein. The process of receiving this single drug usually takes about one hour. You will probably be given an anti-nausea drug before the cisplatin. In order to avoid kidney problems, you may be given other medicines that will help to quickly flush the cisplatin out through the kidneys. It is imperative that you drink 2 to 3 quarts of water a day (about one 8-oz. glass per hour) while undergoing mesothelioma treatment with cisplatin. Dosage and frequency of treatments are determined on an individual basis, but if you are receiving cisplatin with Alimta, you will follow a 21-day cycle.

Side Effects of Cisplatin

As was previously mentioned, cisplatin is a highly potent chemotherapy drug that can cause serious side effects, including those listed below:

  • Kidney damage
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Metallic taste in mouth or taste changes
  • Decreased levels of calcium, magnesium, and potassium
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hair thinning

Report any and all side effects to your medical team. Be diligent about drinking water and expect your doctor to check your kidney function frequently while undergoing chemotherapy with cisplatin.

Manufactured by Bristol Myers Squibb.

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