What Is Cisplatin Toxicity?

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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 08 May 2020
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Cisplatin is a platinum-containing compound used to treat certain types of cancers. The term “cisplatin toxicity” refers to how harmful or deadly cisplatin can be to the body. Cisplatin toxicity manifests in many forms and can occur from a standard dose of the medication, or an overdose. The major forms of cisplatin toxicity include renal toxicity, myelosupression and ototoxicity, in addition to hepatotoxicity, retinopathy and peripheral neuropathy. These and other types of cisplatin toxicity come with a variety of symptoms, some of which are side effects of the medication as well.

While under cisplatin treatment, a patient should talk to his or her doctor about any side effects he or she might have as some side effects are also signs of toxicity. Common side effects of cisplatin include nausea, vomiting and numbness or tingling in the hands or feet. Diarrhea, fatigue and loss of appetite are less common side effects, while rare side effects include chest pain, heart attack and seizure. While cisplatin toxicity does not necessarily result from overdose, an overdose can increase how dangerous and toxic the medication can be to the body. There is no antidote for cisplatin toxicity and if the condition is severe enough, it can result in death.

Medical conditions and interactions with other drugs can affect how the body responds to cisplatin. Diabetes and heart disease are examples of medical conditions that can play a role in cisplatin treatment, as well as kidney disease and liver disease. Drug interactions, on the other hand, include aminoglycosides, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The overall condition of the patient, then, as well as the side effects he or she experiences while under treatment, will help to determine or change his or her dosage.

Cisplatin itself works by stopping the growth of cancer cells. It is used to treat metastatic bladder, ovarian and testicular cancers, in addition to a variety of other types of cancers such as cervical carcinoma and lung cancer. The medication is administered intravenously and requires the patient to undergo an infusion, a procedure that takes at least an hour to complete. The overall length of a patient’s treatment depends on a variety of factors, much like those that determine his or her dosage. These factors include the type of cancer the patient has, the forms of treatment he or she is undergoing, and how well he or she responds to treatment.

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