The uses of carboplatin and etoposide are to treat various types of cancer either in combination with another drug or on their own. The two drugs are considered a first-line treatment for small-cell lung cancer, and they are given in combination to treat the condition. Patients are given an intravenous drip of both of the drugs on the first day of treatment, then etoposide is given on the second and third days either intravenously or as oral capsules. Separately, etoposide can treat small-cell lung cancer, ovarian cancer, some leukemias, and testicular cancer. Carboplatin can be used separately to treat ovarian cancer, non small-cell lung cancer, testicular cancer, and some bladder cancers.
Combination therapy with carboplatin and etoposide is used as a first-line treatment for small cell lung cancer. This means that the therapy is amongst the most effective treatments for the condition. Patients are unlikely to be offered carboplatin and etoposide together for other conditions. Doctors like to use a combination therapy to treat cancer because different drugs attack cancer cells in different ways and at different stages in the cell’s life cycle.
Treatment with carboplatin and etoposide occurs in 21-day cycles, with the first three days being used for treatment. The first day consists of intravenous administration of both drugs, with carboplatin being given over 30 minutes to an hour and etoposide given over an hour. Carboplatin is mixed in a glucose solution and etoposide is mixed in a sodium chloride (salt) solution. The second and third days of treatment consist of further dosing with etoposide. This can be given as an intravenous drip again or as oral tablets.
Carboplatin is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug suitable for taking without etoposide. The drug works by stopping cancer cells from repairing themselves, eventually leading to the cells dying. It is approved for use in cases of non small-cell lung cancer and ovarian cancer by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Other uses — called off-label uses — prescribed by doctors include treatment of testicular, stomach, and bladder cancers. The combination of carboplatin and etoposide is the only way the drug is used in treatment of small cell lung cancer.
Etoposide is a chemotherapy drug also suitable for taking without combination with carboplatin. The drug slows down the growth of cancer cells, thus halting progression of the condition. It is primarily used for the treatment of small-cell lung cancer, but can also be used off-label for ovarian cancer, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer. Although combining carboplatin and etoposide for treatment of small cell lung cancer is common, etoposide can also be used alone to treat the condition.