This page tells you about the chemotherapy drug carboplatin and its possible side effects. There are sections about
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. You have the tube put in just before your course of treatment starts and it stays in place as long as you need it. 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.
More than 10 in every 100 people have one or more of the side effects listed below.
A temporary drop in the number of blood cells made by the bone marrow, causing
- 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, sore throat, pain passing urine or feel cold and shivery
- 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).
Some of these side effects can be life threatening, particularly infections. You should contact your treatment centre if you have any of these effects. Your doctor will check your blood counts regularly to see how well your bone marrow is working.
Other common side effects include
- Tiredness (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 get pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. It is important to talk to your doctor about your fertility before starting treatment.
- Carboplatin may have a harmful effect on a baby that is developing in the womb. It is not advisable to become pregnant or father a child if you are having this drug. You should talk about contraception with your doctor or nurse before having the treatment.
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 have ringing in their ears (tinnitus)
- Numbness or tingling in fingers and toes affects about 4 out of every 100 people (4%) and 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
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 immediately if you have any skin rashes, itching, feeling hot, shivering, going red in the face, feeling dizzy, a headache, shortness of breath, anxiety or a sudden need to pass urine
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
Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about all your side effects so that they can help you manage them. Your chemotherapy nurse, clinic or ward nurse will give you a contact number. You can ring if you have any questions or problems. They can give you advice or reassure you. If in doubt, call them.
Tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and other over the counter remedies – some drugs can react together.
You should not have immunisations with live vaccines while you are having this treatment or for at least 6 months afterwards. In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles (usually given together as MMR), BCG and yellow fever. You can have other vaccines, but they may not give you as much protection as usual until your immune system has fully recovered.
It is safe for you to be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections. There can be problems with oral vaccines, but not many people in the UK have oral vaccines 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.
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.
Rated 4 out of 5 based on 10 votes
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team