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Trade/other name(s): Paraplatin, CBDCA

Why would this drug be used?

Carboplatin is used to treat ovarian, lung, and other cancers.

How does this drug work?

Carboplatin is a platinum chemotherapy drug that acts like an alkylating agent. It stops the growth of cancer cells, causing the cells to die.

Before taking this medicine

Tell your doctor…

  • If you are allergic to anything, including medicines, dyes, additives, or foods.
  • If you have any medical conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease (including hepatitis), heart disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, gout, or infections. These conditions may require that your medicine dose, regimen, or timing be changed.
  • If you have taken carboplatin or other platinum-containing medicines before. You will need to be watched more closely for certain side effects.
  • If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or if there is any chance of pregnancy. This drug may cause birth defects if either the male or female is taking it at the time of conception or during pregnancy. Check with your doctor about what kinds of birth control can be used with this medicine.
  • If you are breast-feeding. It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. If it does, it could affect the baby.
  • If you think you might want to have children in the future. Some drugs can cause sterility. Talk with your doctor about the possible risk with this drug and the options that may preserve your ability to have children.
  • About any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines you are taking, including vitamins and herbs. In fact, keeping a written list of each of these medicines (including the doses of each and when you take them) with you in case of emergency may help prevent complications if you get sick.

Interactions with other drugs

If taken with other medicines that can harm the kidneys, like aminoglycosides (a type of antibiotic that is usually given in the vein, such as gentamicin, tobramycin, amikacin, streptomycin, and others), there is a higher risk of kidney damage with this drug.

Drugs that can cause hearing loss, such as aminoglycoside antibiotics (see above examples) and some "water pills" -- the diuretics furosemide (Lasix) and ethacrynic acide (Edecrin) -- may worsen the risk of hearing loss from carboplatin.

Any drugs or supplements that interfere with blood clotting can raise the risk of bleeding during treatment with carboplatin. These include:

  • vitamin E
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and many others
  • warfarin (Coumadin)
  • ticlopidine (Ticlid)
  • clopidogrel (Plavix)

Note that many cold, flu, fever, and headache remedies contain aspirin or ibuprofen. Ask your pharmacist if you aren't sure what's in the medicines you take.

Carboplatin may cause anti-seizure drugs such as phenytoin (Dilantin) to leave the body faster.

Check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about other medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements, and whether alcohol can cause problems with this medicine.

Interactions with foods

No serious interactions with food are known at this time. Check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about whether foods may be a problem.

Tell all the doctors, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists you visit that you are taking this drug.

How is this drug taken or given?

Carboplatin is given as an infusion in the vein over 15 to 60 minutes. You will probably be given an anti-nausea drug before receiving this medicine. The dose will depend on your size but may be lowered or not given if your blood counts are low. It can also be given as an infusion into a vein over 24 hours or directly into the peritoneal cavity in advanced ovarian cancer.


This drug can cause allergic reactions in some people while the drug is being given. Symptoms can include feeling lightheaded or dizzy (due to low blood pressure), fever or chills, hives, nausea, itching, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, or swelling of the face, tongue, or throat. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you notice any of these symptoms as you are being given the drug.

Carboplatin is given into the vein (IV). If the drug leaks out of the vein and under the skin, it may damage the tissue, causing pain, ulceration, and scarring. Tell the nurse right away if you notice redness, pain, or swelling at or near the IV.

Do not get any immunizations (vaccines), either during or after treatment with this drug, without your doctor's OK. Carboplatin may affect your immune system. This could make vaccinations ineffective, or even lead to serious infections if you get a live virus vaccine during or soon after treatment. Try to avoid contact with people who have recently received a live virus vaccine, such as the oral polio vaccine or smallpox vaccine. Check with your doctor about this.

Your doctor will likely test your blood throughout your treatment, looking for possible effects of the drug on blood counts (described below) or on other body organs. Based on the test results, you may be given medicines to help treat any effects. Your doctor may also need to reduce or delay your next dose of this drug, or even stop it completely. Keep all your appointments for lab tests and doctor visits.

This drug can lower your white blood cell count, especially in the weeks after the drug is given. This can increase your chance of getting an infection. Be sure to let your doctor or nurse know right away if you have any signs of infection, such as fever (100.5° or higher), chills, pain when passing urine, a new cough, or bringing up sputum.

Carboplatin may lower your platelet count in the weeks after it is given, which can increase your risk of bleeding. Speak with your doctor before taking any drugs or supplements that might affect your body's ability to stop bleeding, such as aspirin or aspirin-containing medicines, warfarin (Coumadin), or vitamin E. Tell your doctor right away if you have unusual bruising, or bleeding such as nosebleeds, bleeding gums when you brush your teeth, or black, tarry stools.

You may have nausea and vomiting on the day you receive this drug or in the first few days afterward. Your doctor may give you medicine before your treatment to help prevent nausea and vomiting. You will likely also get a prescription for an anti-nausea medicine that you can take at home. It is important to have these medicines on hand and to take them as prescribed by your doctor. To avoid dehydration, call your doctor or nurse if these medicines aren't helping.

Carboplatin may damage certain nerves in the body, which can lead to a condition called peripheral neuropathy. This can cause numbness, weakness, pain, or sensations of burning or tingling, usually in the hands or feet. Constipation can also occur. These symptoms can sometimes progress to include trouble walking or holding things in your hands. Let your doctor know right away if you notice any of these symptoms. If they are severe enough, this drug may need to be stopped or the dose reduced until they get better. Rarely, the loss of sensation may not go away.

Avoid pregnancy during and for at least a few months after treatment, since exposure to the drug can harm the fetus. Talk with your doctor about this.

Possible side effects

You will probably not have most of the following side effects, but if you have any talk to your doctor or nurse. They can help you understand the side effects and cope with them.


  • Low white blood cell count with increased risk of infection*
  • Low platelet count with increased risk of bleeding*
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia), which can make you tired, dizzy, or easily out of breath
  • Brittle hair
  • Kidney function can be altered at high doses
  • Fetal abnormalities if you get pregnant while taking this drug

Less common

  • Nausea*
  • Vomiting*
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Taste changes
  • Allergic reaction*
  • Sensation of pins and needles in hands and/or feet related to nerve irritation*
  • Temporary or permanent infertility (inability to have children)


  • Confusion
  • Changes in vision or vision loss (which improves after drug is stopped)
  • Ringing in ears or hearing loss, which may be permanent
  • Rash
  • Dehydration
  • Sores in the mouth or throat
  • Severe allergic reaction*
  • Kidney damage (may go away when drug is stopped)
  • Liver problems
  • Hair loss or thinning, including face and body hair
  • Dizziness
  • Death due to allergic reaction, infection, or other causes

*see "Precautions" section for more detailed information

There are other side effects not listed above that can also occur in some patients.

Tell your doctor or nurse if you develop these or any other problems.

FDA approval

Yes -- first approved in 1989

Disclaimer: This information does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, or interactions. It is not intended as medical advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for talking with your doctor, who is familiar with your medical needs.

Last Medical Review: 01/14/2010
Last Revised: 12/20/2010