How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Cisplatin belongs to the group of cancer-fighting medications known as antineoplastics, and specifically to the group of antineoplastics known as platinum-containing compounds. Cisplatin stops the growth of cancer cells by interfering with the genetic material DNA, which is necessary for cells to multiply. Cisplatin is used alone or with other cancer-fighting medications to treat cancer of the testes or ovaries that has spread to other parts of the body. It is also used to treat bladder cancer.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are using this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each mL of Cisplatin Injection contains 1 mg of cisplatin. Nonmedicinal ingredients: sodium chloride, mannitol, water for injection, and hydrochloric acid as pH adjuster.

How should I use this medication?

The recommended dose and dosing schedule of cisplatin varies according to the specific type of cancer being treated, the response to therapy, and the other medications or treatments being used. The dose given is based on body size.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor. Your doctor may decide on a dosage schedule different from that described here.

Cisplatin is available as an intravenous (into the vein) injection. It is usually injected through a specially prepared site on the skin. This medication is most often given as a single injection every 3 to 4 weeks or as one injection (of a smaller dose) daily for 5 days every 3 to 4 weeks.

Very careful handling of this medication is required. Cisplatin should only be given by health care professionals familiar with the use of cancer chemotherapy. It is always given under the supervision of a doctor in a hospital or similar setting with access to sterile equipment for preparation.

Note that it is very important to drink plenty of fluids right after your treatment. Your doctor may want you to drink extra fluids while taking this medication in order to help you pass more fluid and protect your kidneys. You should try to drink a glass of water every 1 to 2 hours and empty your bladder regularly for at least 24 hours after your treatment.

It is important to use this medication exactly as recommended by your doctor. If you miss an appointment to receive cisplatin, contact your doctor as soon as possible to reschedule your appointment.

As well as interfering with the genetic material DNA of cancer cells, cisplatin can interfere with some of your body’s normal cells. This can cause a number of side effects. Keep track of any side effects and report them to your doctor as suggested in the section, "What side effects are possible with this medication?"

This medication is stored at room temperature. It should be protected from light and kept out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

You should not use cisplatin if you:

  • are allergic to cisplatin, any platinum-containing compounds, or any ingredients of the medication
  • have hearing impairment
  • have reduced bone marrow function (e.g. low white cells)
  • have reduced kidney function

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is used in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who uses this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people using this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • taste disturbances
  • temporary hair loss

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • blurred vision
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty in ability to distinguish colours
  • difficulty walking
  • hearing difficulties
  • loss of balance
  • loss of reflexes
  • muscle cramps
  • numbness or tingling in fingers or toes
  • ringing in ears
  • severe nausea and vomiting
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • walking problems

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • pain, redness, or swelling at site of injection
  • seizures
  • signs of a serious allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, wheezing, swelling of the face and throat, increased heart rate, dizziness)
  • signs of bleeding (e.g., unusual bruising or bleeding, pinpoint red spots on skin, black tarry stools, bloody nose, blood in urine, coughing blood, cuts that don't stop bleeding)
  • signs of infection (symptoms may include fever or chills, sore throat, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, painful or difficult urination, or listlessness)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are using this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Blood clotting: This medication can reduce the number of platelet cells in the blood and increase your risk of bleeding. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly as usual (e.g., black and tarry stools, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that won't stop bleeding). Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of platelets in your blood.

Gout: This medication may cause high levels of uric acid in the blood, making gout more likely to occur. If you have gout or a history of gout, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Report any unusual joint pain or swelling to your doctor as soon as possible.

Hearing impairment: This medication can cause permanent hearing damage and should not be given to anyone with hearing impairment. Your hearing will be monitored closely while you are using this medication.

Infection: In addition to killing cancer cells, this medication can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). If possible, avoid contact with people with contagious infections. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells in your blood.

Kidney function: Cisplatin can reduce kidney function and cause kidney damage. For this reason, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids right after your treatment. Your doctor may want you to drink extra fluids while taking this medication in order to help you pass more fluid and protect your kidneys. Your doctor will monitor your kidney function closely while you are using this medication. If you have reduced kidney function you should not use this medication.

Nervous system: Cisplatin can cause damage to the nervous system. If you experience symptoms such as loss of taste, tingling in the hands or feet, or balance trouble, tell your doctor as soon as possible. These side effects are often reversible if the medication is stopped early.

Pregnancy: There is a possibility of birth defects if either the man or woman is using cisplatin at the time of conception, or if it is taken during pregnancy. This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks.

Use effective birth control while you are being treated with this medication. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. Women receiving this medication should not breast-feed.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between cisplatin and any of the following:

  • aminoglycoside antibiotics (e.g., gentamicin, tobramycin)
  • amphotericin B
  • bleomycin
  • carbamazepine
  • docetaxel
  • echinacea
  • ethacrynic acid
  • furosemide
  • ganciclovir
  • ifosfamide
  • leflunomide
  • live vaccines (e.g., BCG, yellow fever)
  • methotrexate
  • natalizumab
  • other cancer-fighting medications
  • paclitaxel
  • phenobarbital
  • phenytoin
  • sulfinpyrazone
  • topotecan
  • vinorelbine

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.