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Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)

Find out what oxaliplatin is, how you have it and other important information about having this chemotherapy drug.

Oxaliplatin is also called Eloxatin. It’s a treatment for different types of cancer.

You usually have oxaliplatin in combination with other chemotherapy drugs. It depends on the type of cancer you have as to which drugs you have it with. 

How it works

Oxaliplatin interferes with the development of DNA in a cell. This stops it from dividing into 2 new cells and kills it.

How you have oxaliplatin chemotherapy

You have oxaliplatin as cycles of treatment. Your treatment plan depends on whether you are having oxaliplatin on its own or with other chemotherapy drugs.

You have oxaliplatin as a drip into your bloodstream (intravenously). Each treatment takes between 2 and 6 hours.

You can have it through a thin, short tube (a cannula) put into a vein in your arm each time you have your treatment.

You can also have it through a long line - either a central line, a PICC line or a portacath.

These are long, plastic tubes that give the drugs into a large vein in your chest. The tube stays in place throughout the course of treatment.

When you have treatment

You could have oxaliplatin every 2 or 3 weeks. Each 2 or 3 week period is a cycle of treatment.

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Fertility

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Breastfeeding

Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Immunisations

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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