Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug used to treat a variety of cancers, including ovarian, bladder, testicular, head and neck, cervical, non-small-cell lung and mesothelioma. The scientific name of cistplatin is cis-diamminedichloroplatinum and its scientific formula is H6Cl2N2Pt. In America, cisplatin may be known under the brand name Platinol. For a full list of synonyms and foreign brand names, please visit the National Cancer Institute Drug Dictionary. http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=39515
How It Works
Cisplatin is classified as an inorganic platinum agent and was the first platinum-based drug developed for the treatment of cancer. Since the introduction of cisplatin, other platinum agents have been introduced for chemotherapy, including carboplatin and oxaliplatin.
All platinum-based chemotherapy drugs work by attacking the reproductive process of cancer cells. This is done through the means of platinum agents binding to cancer cell DNA. These binds create cross-links on the DNA, which stops the DNA strands from separating. Strand separation is a vital step in DNA replication. Depending on the type and severity of cancer, this process slows or stops the growth of cancer cells within the body.
How Cisplatin is Administered
Cisplatin is a clear fluid and is administered to the patient intravenously. Specifically, the drug may be introduced via a drip infusion, central line or PICC line. Central lines are typically inserted into a vein near the collar bone, while PICC lines are most frequently inserted into a vein in the arm.
Administration of Cisplatin is a lengthy process, with each session typically requiring six to eight hours. Furthermore, several sessions may be required over a period of several months. The total length and amount of each session varies depending on the type of cancer and receptiveness of the individual patient. In many cases, cisplatin is one of many chemotherapy drugs administered during the treatment process.
A number of side effects are associated with cisplatin. The majority of those prescribed the medication experience the following:
- Reduced appetite
- Loss of weight
- Loss of hair
- Numbness in the extremities
- Changes in taste
If vomiting or fatigue persists for more than a few hours, then it is suggested that patients contact their doctor. Other severe symptoms that may warrant additional medical attention include:
- Swelling in the feet
- Shortness of breath
- Neck pain
- Black stool
- Uncommon bruising or bleeding
Beyond the physical and external symptoms felt by the patient, Cisplatin has also been linked to a reduction of blood cells in the bone marrow. To ensure such effects are limited, the patient’s doctor will take blood samples during all phases of the treatment process.
Severe kidney damage and hearing loss are also potentially harmful outcomes of cisplatin treatment. Symptoms that may indicate such damage include pain during urination, blood in the urine, ringing in the ears and loss of balance. If such symptoms occur, the patient should contact his or her doctor immediately.
The doctor and patient should discuss a number of issues prior to beginning the cisplatin chemotherapy process. Items that need to be discussed include:
- Patient allergies to drugs, dyes and foods
- Any prescription or over-the-counter medications the patient is currently taking
- Any previous medical conditions, especially kidney, liver or heart disease, diabetes, gout and infections.
- Any previous occurrence of kidney stones
- Any previous exposure to chemotherapy
- If the patient is female, current and future possibility of becoming pregnant
The National Institute of Health Hazardous Substances Databank on cisplatin
History of Use
The compound that forms cisplatin was first identified in 1845. Studies performed at Michigan State University in the 1960s led to the discovery that cisplatin can be produced through the electrolysis of a platinum electrode. Further studies at the university indicated that the drug was effective in treating sarcomas in laboratory rats. Based on these and other studies, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved cisplatin for clinical use in 1978.