What Is Platinol Used for?
Platinol®, a brand name for cisplatin, is a type of chemotherapy drug used in patients with various types of cancer, including mesothelioma. This form of treatment can be used alone or in conjunction with other mesothelioma treatments and medications. Platinol is administered intravenously as an infusion by a medical professional. It generally appears as a yellow lyophilized (freeze-dried) powder.
How Platinol Works with Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma tumors are classified based on how rapidly they divide and where they develop. “Healthy” cells stop the dividing process when they come in contact with similar cells, a process also known as contact inhibition. Cancerous cells lose this ability. For a tumor to be mesothelioma-type cancer, it must develop in one of three sites, the pleura (lining of the lungs), the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen), or the pericardium (lining of the heart)
Platinol works to stop cancerous cells from dividing by damaging the RNA or DNA that tells the cell to divide. If a cell cannot multiply, it dies. The faster the cells divide, the faster chemotherapy medications will kill the cells, consequently shrinking the tumors. One thing that must be noted, however, is that chemotherapy can’t differentiate between cancerous and healthy cells, so even if it’s a healthy cell that’s multiplying, the drug will kill it.
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As with most medications, Platinol comes with some side effects. It’s an irritant, so when the doctor is administering the drug intravenously during treatment, it can cause pain and inflammation of the vein where it’s injected. Some important things to consider:
- Side effects can be manageable
- Your doctor can often predict onset, duration, and severity of side effects
- Side effects will improve after the therapy is complete
- There is no relationship between the side effects and drug effectiveness
Common side effects that occur in over 30% of people include:
- Hearing loss or ringing in the ears
- Kidney function issues
- Low blood counts
- Blood toxicity (low magnesium, calcium, or potassium)
More rare symptoms occurring in less than 30% of individuals can include:
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling of extremities)
- Taste changes (metallic taste)
If you experience any of these side-effects, let your doctor know, they usually can prescribe a medication to relieve them. For instance, doctors can recommend medicine to help with nausea or vomiting. Platinol is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Advice for Self-Care
Learning about potential side-effects can be daunting, but there are self-care methods that can help minimize side effects. Information for helping with adverse reactions are:
- Minimize or halt alcohol intake
- To help reduce feelings of nausea, eat dry cereal, toast, or crackers
- Keep up with fluids and stay hydrated
- Try to avoid crowds or sick people, as you may be more susceptible to infections
- Wash your hands a lot
- To avoid/treat mouth sores, use a soft toothbrush and rinse with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water 3 times a day
- Avoid excessive sun exposure and wear SPF 30 sunblock or higher, as well as clothes that cover the skin
- Maintain good nutrition
- Get plenty of rest
- Discuss all symptoms and side-effects with your cancer care team
Ask your doctor about more suggestions they may have to help reduce symptoms and adverse reactions.
Your doctor will be able to determine if Platinol is the correct treatment option based on a few essential factors. Some factors are your overall health and mesothelioma stage. Platinol may be administered in conjunction with surgery, additional chemotherapy medication, radiation, or immunotherapy drugs. Ask your doctor plenty of questions at each visit.