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Understanding Lung Cancer Medications (cont.)

Platinum Alkylators

Platinum alkylators include cisplatin (Platinol) and carboplatin (Paraplatin).

  • Who should not use these medications: Persons with the following conditions should not use platinum alkylators:

    • Allergy to cisplatin, carboplatin, or other platinum-containing compounds


    • Poor kidney function


    • Hearing impairment


    • Extremely low blood cell count

  • Use: These drugs are given by an intravenous (IV) injection during the first 3 days of each cycle. They may be given as a single IV injection on the first day of each chemotherapy cycle.


  • Drug or food interactions: Platinum alkylators may increase other drugs’ tendency to cause kidney toxicity. One example of such a drug is cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral). The risk of platinum alkylators further reducing blood cell counts and causing anemia or bleeding may increase when they are used with other chemotherapy drugs. Platinum alkylators may also decrease blood levels of antiseizure drugs, such as phenytoin (Dilantin) or carbamazepine (Tegretol), thereby increasing seizure activity.


  • Side effects: Platinum alkylators may cause a person to bleed or to develop infections more easily. A doctor will check blood and urine for abnormalities that may be caused by these drugs.

    • A doctor should be contacted immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

      • Allergic reaction symptoms, including fast heartbeat, itching or hives, swelling of the face or hands, swelling or tingling in the mouth or throat, chest tightness, and wheezing


      • Changes in urination frequency or amount


      • Unexplained fever, chills, or sore throat


      • Trouble hearing or ringing or buzzing in the ears


      • Bleeding or bruising


      • Nausea or vomiting


      • Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the hands, arms, legs, or feet


      • Redness, pain, or swelling where the IV is given

    • Other side effects include the following:


    • Medications are available to control and prevent side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, which are controlled or prevented 75% or more of the time.

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