Carboplatin is a key drug in the treatment of lung tumors, both non-small cell and small cell types.
It is usually given in association with another drug, which can be vinorelbine, gemcitabine, pemetrexed, taxotere/docetaxel, paclitaxel/taxol or etoposide. Its mechanism of action is similar to cisplatin, but, unlike the latter, it is not excreted by the kidney and therefore, represents the first choice in patients with renal function problems.
What are the potential side effects of Carboplatin?
Reactions to chemotherapy vary from person to person: some patients have very few side effects, while other patients have to bear more serious consequences. The side effects described in the Pharmacological Profile will not necessarily affect all those who take carboplatin treatment. It should be noted that in treatment regimens consisting of a combination of drug rather than carboplatin alone, the side effects may be different.
The Pharmacological Profile takes into consideration the most common as well as the less frequent side effects, so that you are prepared if they do occur. On the other hand, very rare side effects are not mentioned, as you will hardly be affected by it.
If you feel any side effect that you think may be connected with taking the drug, but not mentioned in the Pharmacological Profile, speak to your oncologist who is treating you.
Most common side effects
- Temporary reduction in blood cell production by the bone marrow. Carboplatin can cause anemia, resulting in fatigue; tendency to develop bruising, or bleeding and an increased risk of developing infections. This effect can occur about seven days after drug administration and blood cell counts usually reach their lowest values 10-14 days after chemotherapy. It then begins to gradually rise again and normalize within 21-28 days.
The blood cell count decreases according to the dose of carboplatin you receive and any other drugs taken. The oncologist will be able to tell you the chances that your blood cell count will decrease following chemotherapy. You will also undergo periodic blood tests to check bone marrow function.
If the temperature rises above 38 ° C or if you develop bruising or bleeding without apparent reason, or if you suddenly do not feel well even if the temperature is normal, contact the oncologist or hospital immediately.
- Nausea and vomiting. Anti-emetics are very effective drugs that can prevent or significantly reduce nausea and vomiting. Nausea may anyway occur despite taking these preparations, within a few hours after treatment and last for 24 hours. If the nausea is not controllable or persists, inform the oncologist, who will not hesitate to prescribe another more effective antiemetic.
- Loss of appetite. The dietitian or a specialized nurse will be able to guide you.
- Fatigue and general widespread weakness It is important to rest a lot.
Less frequent side effects
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. This effect is determined by the action of the drug on the nerves, causing peripheral neuropathy. It rarely manifests itself if the treatment is carried out with a normal dosage, but it can arise if the doses are very high. You may notice, for example, that you have difficulty buttoning your shirt or performing other tasks that require manual skill. If you experience numbness or a tingling sensation in your hands or feet, inform the oncologist. The situation gradually improves within a few months after the end of the treatment.
- Changes in hearing. This is also a very rare side effect if the drug is given in the usual doses, but if these are high, you may feel a sensation of noise in the ear – a phenomenon that is called tinnitus – and you may also not be able to hear high pitched sounds. This phenomenon also tends to disappear at the end of the treatment. Inform the oncologist if you experience a decrease in hearing ability or if you hear these noises.
- Diarrhea. It can usually be controlled easily with medication, however, inform the oncologist if it is severe or persistent. In case of diarrhea, you must drink a lot to replenish these lost fluids.
- Tenderness of the oral cavity and alteration of taste. During treatment, you may experience a painful sensation in your mouth, which may be particularly dry, and you may notice small ulcers. To prevent this side effect, it is important to intake plenty of fluids and clean the teeth regularly with a soft toothbrush. If you have any of these problems, inform the oncologist, who will be able to prescribe special mouthwashes and medications to prevent or treat possible oral infections. Furthermore, you may notice that the food no longer tastes the same, but everything will return to normal after the treatment has ended.
- Hair loss or alopecia. This is a very rare side effect if you receive carboplatin in normal doses, but it can occur in patients who are treated with high doses. If this occurs, hair will usually begin to fall three to four weeks after the start of treatment, although it may also happen sooner. In any case, it is a temporary effect and the hair will grow back once the treatment is complete.
Further information on Carboplatin
Some medicines may interfere with chemotherapy. For this reason, consult the oncologist before taking other drugs.
Fertility. The drug can affect the ability to conceive. It is important that you discuss fertility concerns with your oncologist before treatment begins.
Contraception. It is not advisable to start a pregnancy or conceive a child if you are being treated with carboplatin, as the drug could compromise fetal development. Effective contraception is required during drug administration and for a few months after treatment is completed. Again, discuss this openly with the oncologist.