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Carboplatin (Paraplatin)

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This page tells you about the chemotherapy drug carboplatin and its possible side effects. There are sections about

 

What carboplatin is

Carboplatin is a chemotherapy drug used to treat some types of cancer. It is most commonly used for ovarian cancer that has spread and small cell lung cancer. It is also sometimes used to treat other cancers. At the centre of this drug is an atom of the metal platinum.

 

How you have carboplatin

You usually have carboplatin by drip into your bloodstream. You can have it through a thin, short tube (a cannula) put into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment. Or you may have it through a central line, a portacath or a PICC line. These are long, plastic tubes that give the drugs directly into a large vein in your chest. The tube stays in place during the whole course of treatment. Carboplatin is often given over an hour.

You usually have chemotherapy as a course of several cycles of treatment. Carboplatin is often given in combination with other chemotherapy drugs. The treatment plan for carboplatin depends on which type of cancer you have.

The dose of carboplatin is usually worked out according to how well your kidneys are working. This is because your kidneys get rid of the carboplatin from your body. There is detailed information about how chemotherapy is planned in this section.

We have listed the side effects of carboplatin below. You can use the links to find out more about each side effect. Where there is no link, you can find more information in the cancer drug side effects section or use the search box at the top of the page.

 

Common side effects

More than 10 in every 100 people have one or more of the side effects listed below.

  • An increased risk of getting an infection from a drop in white blood cells – it is harder to fight infections and you can become very ill. You may have headaches, aching muscles, a cough, a sore throat, pain passing urine, or you may feel cold and shivery. If you have a severe infection this can be life threatening. Contact your treatment centre straight away if you have any of these effects or if your temperature goes above 38°C. You will have regular blood tests to check your blood cell levels
  • Tiredness and breathlessness due to a drop in red blood cells (anaemia) – you may need a blood transfusion
  • Bruising more easily due to a drop in platelets – you may have nosebleeds, bleeding gums after brushing your teeth, or lots of tiny red spots or bruises on your arms or legs (known as petechia)
  • Tiredness and weakness (fatigue) during and after treatment – most people find their energy levels are back to normal within 6 months to a year
  • Feeling or being sick is usually well controlled with anti sickness injections and tablets but can go on for a few days
  • Kidney damage – you will have blood tests before your treatment to make sure your kidneys are able to cope with the drug
  • Women may stop having periods (amenorrhoea) but this may only be temporary
  • Loss of 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
 

Occasional side effects

Between 1 and 10 in every 100 people have one or more of these effects.

  • Hair thinning
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of taste or a metallic taste
  • Loss of ability to hear some high pitched sounds, which usually gets better on its own
  • About 1 in 100 people (1%) have ringing in their ears (tinnitus)
  • Numbness or tingling in fingers and toes affects about 4 out of every 100 people (4%). It can cause difficulty with fiddly things such as doing up buttons. This starts within a few days or weeks and usually goes within a few months of finishing treatment
 

Rare side effects

Fewer than 1 in 100 people have these effects.

  • Hair loss
  • Some people have an allergic reaction while having carboplatin, usually at the first or second treatment – let your treatment team know straight away if you have any skin rashes, itching, feeling hot, shivering, redness of the face, dizziness, a headache, shortness of breath, anxiety, or a sudden need to pass urine
 

Important points to remember

The side effects above may be mild or more severe. A side effect may get better or worse through your course of treatment, or more side effects may develop as the course goes on. This depends on

  • How many times you've had the drug before
  • Your general health
  • The amount of the drug you have (the dose)
  • Other drugs you are having

Coping with side effects

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about all your side effects so they can help you manage them. They can give you advice or reassure you. Your nurse will give you a contact number to ring if you have any questions or problems. If in doubt, call them.

Other medicines

Tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies. Some drugs can react together.

Pregnancy and contraception

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

Breastfeeding

Do not breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in the breast milk.

 

Immunisations and chemotherapy

You should not have immunisations with live vaccines while you are having chemotherapy or for at least 6 months afterwards. In the UK, these include rubella, mumps, measles (usually given together as MMR), BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can have other vaccines, but they may not give you as much protection as usual until your immune system has fully recovered from your chemotherapy. It is safe to have the flu vaccine.

It is safe for you to be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections. There can be problems with vaccines you take by mouth (oral vaccines), but not many people in the UK have these now. So there is usually no problem in being with any baby or child who has recently had any vaccination in the UK. You might need to make sure that you aren't in contact with anyone who has had oral polio, cholera or typhoid vaccination recently, particularly if you live abroad.

 

More information about carboplatin

This page does not list all the very rare side effects of this treatment that are very unlikely to affect you. For further information look at the Electronic Medicines Compendium website at www.medicines.org.uk.

If you have a side effect not mentioned here that you think may be due to this treatment you can report it to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) at www.mhra.gov.uk.

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Updated: 25 July 2014