What Is Oxaliplatin?
Oxaliplatin in combination with infusional 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin was first approved to treat advanced colorectal cancer. The drug, also known as Eloxatin, has been clinically proven to improve survival, delay tumor growth, and shrink tumors in patients with colorectal cancer and stage III colon cancer.
Not long after its initial approval, researchers started testing oxaliplatin on mesothelioma patients in clinical trials. The drug is also being studied in the treatment for other forms of diseases, including:
- Esophageal Cancer
- Gastric Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Urothelial Cancer
Eloxatin is the brand name for oxaliplatin and manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC. The biomedical product development company was founded in 1999. Eloxatin was approved by the FDA in 2002.
How Oxaliplatin Works
Mesothelioma patients are often treated with a combination of chemotherapy drugs to eliminate cancer cells and prevent them from spreading throughout the body. Like healthy cells, cancer cells spread by replicating and dividing (known as mitosis). Both healthy and cancer cells spread by replicating DNA and dividing during.
Oxaliplatin is made up of heavy metal compounds that can stop the replication of DNA and the division of cancer cells. By preventing the cells from dividing, oxaliplatin can stop the growth of cancer. Over time, the elimination of cancer cells will shrink a tumor.
Patients treated with oxaliplatin receive the drug through intravenous (IV) infusion and typically combined with fluorouracil or irinotecan. The dosage depends on the patient’s size, type of cancer, and reaction to treatment.
Like most chemotherapy medications, oxaliplatin causes blood cell count to decrease, which increases the risk of infection and side effects. Patients typically do not experience all known side effects.
Less than half of patients receiving oxaliplatin may experience serious side effects, including Infection and Low White Blood Cell Count, Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome (PRES), Lung Changes, heart problems, or Rhabdomyolysis Common side effects of oxaliplatin include:
- Decrease in appetite
- Liver toxicity
- Low red blood cell count
- Vision problems
Signs of Allergic Reactions
- Chest pain
- A decrease in blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Flushing or itching
- Shortness of breath
- Signs of Peripheral Neuropathy
- Burning in hands or feet
- Inability to sense temperature of bathwater
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Tingling in hands or feet
Talk to your doctor about managing side effects. They can prescribe you to medications that relieve symptoms and give you recommendations on complementary treatments. Some self-care methods to combat symptoms include:
- Avoid excessive sun exposure
- Eat plain foods, like toast or crackers, to reduce nausea
- Get plenty of sleep
- Limit exposure to sick people or large crowds
- Limit or eliminate alcohol consumption
- Maintain good nutrition
- Stay hydrated by keeping up with fluid intake
- Wash your hands
Oxaliplatin In Clinical Trials
There are not many approved medications to treat mesothelioma. Through clinical trials, researchers can discover new ways to treat mesothelioma. Medications like oxaliplatin have been tested for efficacy and safety, so researchers can make improvements to be safe for public treatment.
A 2008 study investigated the efficiency and safety of oxaliplatin with or without gemcitabine in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma previously treated with pemetrexed. Researchers wanted to study the response rate and disease control rate. Other study goals included progression-free survival and toxicity. Doctors found a partial response in two out of 29 patients and stabilized disease in eleven patients. Around 55 percent of patients experienced progressive disease. Researchers concluded the treatment may benefit pleural mesothelioma patients with minimal toxicity.
An open-label, phase II study completed in 2003 evaluated the outcome of a combination of raltitrexed and oxaliplatin in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Out of around 70 patients in total that were enrolled, more than half had advanced disease. Results found the prognosis of twenty-four patients were classified as poor. The rest of the patients had stable disease or partial response. Researchers concluded that the combination of drugs showed success in pleural mesothelioma patients previously treated with chemotherapy, and the tolerability profiles of the medications were acceptable.
A Phase II study completed in 2013 at Columbia University tested the combination of oxaliplatin and gemcitabine as first or second-line chemotherapy in patients with malignant pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma. More than half of the participants were unable to finish the study, and most remaining patients did not respond to treatment.
A cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming for both patients and their families. Learn more about mesothelioma and treatment options in our free mesothelioma guide.