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Mesothelioma Book

Cisplatin

Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug that is used to treat many types of cancers, including mesothelioma. Cisplatin belongs to the class of medications known as alkylating agents.  Cisplatin kills cancer cells by forming reactive platinum complexes which bind to nucleophilic groups in DNA, creating DNA cross-links which interfere with the cell’s ability to repair itself.

Your doctor will administer cisplatin intravenously.  The dosage, time between doses, and length of time prescribed will be different for different patients dependent on the strength of the medicine and the medical problem.  Cisplatin is often used in combination with other drugs, such as Alimta®, for maximum effect.  It is often given every three weeks, but this may vary.

Other effects can also occur as some normal cells may also be affected by the use of cisplatin.

Precautions

It is important to have regular visits to check your progress with your mesothelioma physician while taking cisplatin to ensure the medication is working properly and not causing unwanted effects.  You should not have any immunizations, or vaccinations, without approval from your doctor during or after cisplatin treatment.  Cisplatin may lower your body's resistance and the introduction of an immunization may cause the infection you are trying to prevent.  Additionally, no one living in your household should take an oral polio vaccine as they may pass the polio virus to you.  To avoid infection, anyone who has taken the oral polio vaccine within several months should be avoided.  If you cannot take these precautions, a protective face mask that covers the nose and mouth should be considered.

The number of white blood cells in your blood can temporarily be lowered by cisplatin treatment, increasing the chance of infection.  Platelets, required for proper blood clotting, may also be lowered by cisplatin.  To reduce the risk of infection and bleeding if this occurs, the following precautions can be taken:

  • Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as fingernail or toenail cutters or a razor.
  • Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur.
  • Avoid people with infections.  Contact your doctor immediately if you have a fever or chills, cough or      hoarseness, lower back or side pain, painful or difficult urination or if you think you are getting an infection.
  • Do not touch the inside of your nose or your eyes unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime.
  • Consult your physician immediately if you have any unusual bleeding or bruising; black, tarry stools; blood in urine or stools; or pinpoint red spots on your skin.
  • Be cautious when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss, or toothpick.  Your doctor, dentist, or nurse may recommend alternative ways to clean your teeth and gums.  Check with your mesothelioma doctor before having any dental work done.

Cisplatin can cause tissue damage and scarring if it accidentally seeps out of the vein into which it is injected.  Inform your doctor or nurse right away if you notice redness, pain, or swelling at the place of injection.

Cisplatin Side Effects

Side effects may occur along with intended effects as some normal cells may be affected by cisplatin.  Because of the reaction in the body, unwanted side effects may not appear for months or years after the medication is administered.  These possible effects should be discussed with your doctor.  Below you will find side effects that may be caused by your cisplatin mesothelioma treatment.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Black, tarry stools
  • Blood in urine or stools
  • Cough or hoarseness accompanied by fever or chills
  • Dizziness or faintness (during or shortly after a dose)
  • Fast heartbeat (during or shortly after a dose)
  • Fever or chills
  • Lower back or side pain accompanied by fever or chills
  • Painful or difficult urination accompanied by fever or chills
  • Pain or redness at place of injection
  • Pinpoint red spots on skin
  • Swelling of face (during or shortly after a dose)
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Wheezing (during or shortly after a dose)

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Joint pain
  • Loss of balance
  • Ringing in ears
  • Swelling of feet or lower legs
  • Trouble in hearing
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Loss of taste
  • Numbness or tingling in fingers or toes
  • Trouble in walking
  • Agitation or confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Change in ability to see colors (especially blue or yellow)
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sores in mouth and on lips

Some side effects may not need medical attention, and may disappear or lessen as your body adjusts to the medication.  These side effects can still be inconvenient and your doctor can answer questions and may be able to help you prevent or reduce them.

  • Nausea and vomiting (severe)
  • Loss of appetite

Side effects that need attention may occur after you have stopped taking cisplatin.  During this period of time, check with your doctor immediately if you notice the following side effects:

  • Black, tarry stools
  • Blood in urine or stools
  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Cough or hoarseness
  • Decrease in urination
  • Fever or chills
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Loss of taste
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Numbness or tingling in fingers or toes
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Pinpoint red spots on skin
  • Ringing in ears
  • Swelling of feet or lower legs
  • Trouble in hearing
  • Trouble in walking
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to give us a call and we will be happy to try to help you!

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