Carboplatin for Mesothelioma
Carboplatin is a chemotherapy drug option for people with malignant mesothelioma cancer. It's a substitute for cisplatin when patients experience uncomfortable side effects, have less-than-optimal kidney function, and cannot continue receiving cisplatin.
Written by Jenna Campagna, RN
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Important Facts About Carboplatin for Mesothelioma
- Carboplatin is one of the mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs that pairs with Alimta (pemetrexed).
- Carboplatin is the generic name for Paraplatin.
- Carboplatin has fewer side effects than cisplatin and can improve quality of life.
What Is Carboplatin?
Carboplatin is a chemotherapy medication for malignant mesothelioma and other cancers. It’s the generic name for the brand name chemotherapy Paraplatin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it as an anti-cancer drug in 1989.
Carboplatin is an alkylating agent, meaning it attacks cancer cells while they are resting. This damages the cells’ genetics and disrupts their growth and division process.
Carboplatin instigates apoptosis, which is the naturally occurring cell death that the body requires to regulate itself. Cancer cells avoid apoptosis, living in the body too long and replicating themselves to create an imbalance.
Survival From Carboplatin for Mesothelioma
Survival from carboplatin is similar to survival from the other main platinum-based chemotherapy drug cisplatin. They’re both best used with Alimta, the brand name for chemotherapy medication pemetrexed.
Using carboplatin with Alimta leads to average survival of around one year in most studies:
- A study published on the Journal of Thoracic Oncology website reported a median survival of 12.7 months for carboplatin with pemetrexed.
- A different study reported a median survival of 14 months.
Both studies reported progression-free survival of 6-7 months, which is equivalent to Alimta and cisplatin.
Dosing of Carboplatin
Dosing for carboplatin is far different than dosing for cisplatin. In most clinical trials, doctors give 75 mg of cisplatin per session. They often give patients 500 mg of carboplatin.
Carboplatin treatment for mesothelioma involves one session, or cycle, every 21 days. The number of cycles depends on the patient’s temperament for chemotherapy side effects. Each session lasts 15-60 minutes.
Carboplatin Side Effects
Carboplatin causes nausea and vomiting, which are two common side effects of cisplatin, but is usually less severe than for cisplatin. Patients have an easier time enduring these side effects from carboplatin. The chemotherapy medication is also less toxic for the patient’s kidneys.
However, carboplatin is associated with disrupted nervous system functioning (neurotoxicity) and reduced production of healthy blood cells due to affected bone marrow activity (myelosuppression).
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How to Start Carboplatin for Mesothelioma
If you’re interested in starting carboplatin for your mesothelioma, follow these three steps:
Contact a patient advocate for help. They’ll explain the difference between the different chemotherapy medications for mesothelioma, including side effects.
Find a mesothelioma cancer center close to your residence, or one you don’t mind traveling to. Many of these top cancer centers can offer carboplatin as a substitute, and some have experimental chemotherapy medications for mesothelioma.
Start chemotherapy treatment, usually beginning with Alimta (pemetrexed) and cisplatin. If the side effects of cisplatin are too uncomfortable to handle, your oncologist may switch you to Alimta with carboplatin.
Sources & Author
- Cisplatin versus carboplatin based regimens for the treatment of patients with metastatic lung cancer. An analysis of Veterans Health Administration data. Journal of Thoracic Oncology. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4982660/. Accessed: 06/02/2021.
- Carboplatin versus cisplatin in solid tumors: an analysis of the literature. Annals of Oncology. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9541678/. Accessed: 06/02/2021.
- Phase II Study of Pemetrexed Plus Carboplatin in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Journal of Thoracic Oncology. Retrieved from: https://ascopubs.org/doi/10.1200/JCO.2005.04.3190. Accessed: 06/02/2021.
- Carboplatin plus pemetrexed as first-line treatment of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma: a phase II study. Clinical Lung Cancer. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20085865/. Accessed: 06/02/2021.