Carboplatin is a systemic chemotherapy drug with properties similar to cisplatin. It is used for palliative purposes and as a first line of treatment.
Benefits of Carboplatin
Carboplatin is one of the chemotherapy drugs in the category of reliable traditional systemic treatments—it has been used to treat other cancers such as ovarian and lung cancer. Essentially, this drug has proven to have a survival benefit good enough to garner its positive reputation.
A study of 102 patients with pleural mesothelioma ineligible for surgery evaluated the efficacy of treatment with carboplatin in combination with Alimta. A promising 67 patients responded well to treatment, making it a viable treatment option.
Fewer Side Effects
Carboplatin is similar to the chemotherapy drug cisplatin. They are both platinum-based drugs, but a benefit of carboplatin is that it has relatively fewer side effects. The correct drug choice, however, depends on the patient’s diagnosis.
Carboplatin Assisted Trials
The combination of carboplatin and Alimta as a treatment option also plays a role in clinical trials. A study is being developed in order to determine if novel drug Cetuximab may play a role in furthering survival time after 6 cycles of carboplatin and Alimta have been administered. The study will admit 43 patients.
What is Carboplatin?
Carboplatin (brand name: Paraplatin) is a platinum-based alkylating antineoplastic agent approved by the FDA in 1989. It is a water soluble, crystalline powder in its molecular form that is most often used to treat ovarian and lung cancers. This agent inhibits DNA synthesis, which is essential for the production of new cancer cells. By inhibiting the synthesis of DNA, mesothelioma cell growth is slowed down and sometimes stopped.
Carboplatin essentially kickstarts apoptosis, also known as “programmed cell death” or “cellular suicide.” Apoptosis is normal in healthy cells where after they divide a specific amount of times they are programmed to die to prevent unchecked cell growth.
A key aspect of cancer cells is that they aren’t subjected to apoptosis. Unchecked cell growth is how tumors develop, and carboplatin halts this process through reinstating apoptosis.
Carboplatin and Alimta
Because carboplatin is similar to cisplatin (both are platinum-based drugs), it is often used as a substitute to cisplatin. When combined with Alimta, platinum-based drugs have shown a significant survival benefit for patients in all stages of mesothelioma.
Although use of cisplatin and Alimta together tends to have a better overall effect on survival, doctors may opt for a carboplatin and Alimta combination because carboplatin is less potent and safer for kidney function. For these reasons, carboplatin is typically safer and used more often in treatment for elderly patients.
Carboplatin is generally administered once a month. Patients have to go to the hospital to receive the drug through an IV, which takes 15 minutes to 1 hour to be administered. It can also be given slowly over a 24-hour period.
The length of time patients receive the drug depends on factors such as:
- Blood cell levels
- How far the disease has spread
- Overall patient health
Luckily, carboplatin is among the safer chemotherapy drugs, so its main benefit is that it doesn’t negatively effect a patient’s health like other chemotherapies might. It is specifically tolerated much better by the kidneys than other chemotherapy drugs.
The side effects of any chemotherapy drug are always the trade-off for attempting to kill cancer cells. Because carboplatin is administered into the bloodstream, it kills healthy blood cells in its mission to kill mesothelioma cells. This causes an overall decrease in blood cell count, affecting a patient’s immune system.
As such, patients on carboplatin are at a higher risk for infection and experiencing other side effects. Doctors, however, monitor the patient’s blood cell count before every administration to make sure the patient isn’t put at unreasonable risk.