Cisplatin is a widely used chemotherapy drug that is effective against a variety of cancers

Here are some common side effects of cisplatin(PtCl2(NH3)2) and their management strategies:

  1. Nausea and vomiting: This is one of the most common side effects of cisplatin. Doctors often prescribe anti-nausea medications before and after PtCl2(NH3)2 treatment to help prevent and manage this side effect.
  2. Kidney damage: Cisplatin can cause kidney damage, known as nephrotoxicity. To help prevent this, doctors typically administer intravenous fluids and sometimes diuretics before and after PtCl2(NH3)2 treatment to ensure that the drug is flushed out of the kidneys.
  3. Peripheral neuropathy: Cisplatin can cause damage to the nerves, resulting in peripheral neuropathy, which can manifest as pain, tingling, or numbness in the hands and feet. There is no specific treatment for this side effect, but it is important to inform the healthcare provider if these symptoms occur.
  4. Hearing loss: Cisplatin can also cause hearing loss, which can be permanent. Patients should inform their healthcare provider if they experience any changes in their hearing. There are no specific treatments to prevent or reverse hearing loss caused by PtCl2(NH3)2.
  5. Bone marrow suppression: PtCl2(NH3)2 can suppress the bone marrow, leading to decreased levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This can increase the risk of infections, anemia, and bleeding. Regular blood tests will be performed to monitor blood cell counts, and if necessary, growth factors or blood transfusions may be administered.
  6. Allergic reactions: Some patients may experience allergic reactions to cisplatin. These reactions can range from mild to severe. Healthcare providers monitor patients closely during PtCl2(NH3)2 treatment and are prepared to manage allergic reactions if they occur.
  7. Electrolyte imbalances: PtCl2(NH3)2 can cause imbalances in electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These imbalances can be monitored and managed with appropriate medications and dietary adjustments.
common side effects of cisplatin

Not all patients will experience these side effects, and the severity can vary from person to person. It is crucial to communicate any symptoms or concerns to the healthcare provider, who can help manage these side effects and make adjustments to the treatment plan if necessary.

Reasons why cisplatin remains a staple in chemotherapy regimens

Cisplatin is widely used in cancer treatment despite its significant side effects due to its effectiveness against a variety of cancers, particularly those that are difficult to treat. Here are some reasons why PtCl2(NH3)2 remains a staple in chemotherapy regimens:

  1. Broad-spectrum activity: Cisplatin is effective against a wide range of cancers, including ovarian, testicular, bladder, lung, and head and neck cancers. Its versatility makes it a valuable treatment option for many different types of tumors.
  2. Potent cytotoxicity: Cisplatin is a highly potent chemotherapeutic agent that can kill cancer cells directly. It works by cross-linking DNA, which prevents cell division and ultimately leads to cell death.
  3. Long-standing track record: Cisplatin has been in use since the 1970s and has a well-established track record of efficacy. Its use has led to improved survival rates and remains a standard of care in many cancer treatment protocols.
  4. Low cost: Compared to newer, targeted therapies, cisplatin is relatively inexpensive. This makes it a cost-effective option, particularly in regions with limited healthcare resources.
  5. Synergy with other treatments: Cisplatin can enhance the effectiveness of other chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy. Combining cisplatin with other treatments can lead to better outcomes than using either treatment alone.
  6. Management of side effects: While cisplatin does have significant side effects, many of these can be anticipated and managed with appropriate supportive care. Advances in supportive care, such as anti-nausea medications and hydration strategies, have made it possible for patients to tolerate cisplatin treatment better.
  7. Ongoing research: Despite its long history, research into cisplatin continues. Scientists are exploring ways to reduce its toxicity and enhance its therapeutic benefits, such as through the development of platinum-based drugs with different side effect profiles or the use of protective agents that can minimize organ damage.

In summary, cisplatin’s effectiveness in treating a variety of cancers, its proven track record, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to manage its side effects have maintained its status as a key component in cancer treatment regimens. However, the decision to use PtCl2(NH3)2 or any other chemotherapy drug is made carefully, considering the potential benefits and risks on an individual basis.

why cisplatin remains a staple in chemotherapy regimens
why cisplatin remains a staple in chemotherapy regimens


  1. Ovarian cancer: PtCl2(NH3)2 is a key component in the treatment of ovarian cancer, often used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs.
  2. Testicular cancer: It is a standard treatment for testicular cancer, both in early and advanced stages.
  3. Bladder cancer: PtCl2(NH3)2 is used in the treatment of advanced bladder cancer, sometimes in combination with other drugs or with surgery.
  4. Lung cancer: It is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer, particularly in combination with other chemotherapy agents.
  5. Head and neck cancers: PtCl2(NH3)2 is an important part of treatment regimens for head and neck cancers, often given in combination with radiation therapy.
  6. Other cancers: PtCl2(NH3)2 may be used to treat other types of cancers, such as cervical cancer, esophageal cancer, and neuroblastoma, among others.


  1. Allergy to cisplatin: Patients who have had an allergic reaction to cisplatin or other platinum-containing compounds should not receive cisplatin.
  2. Severe kidney impairment: Cisplatin is contraindicated in patients with severe renal impairment or kidney failure, as the drug can cause further kidney damage.
  3. Dehydration: Cisplatin requires adequate hydration to minimize the risk of kidney damage. It is contraindicated in patients who are dehydrated or unable to maintain proper fluid balance.
  4. Hearing impairment: Patients with pre-existing hearing loss or ototoxicity should use cisplatin with caution, as it can cause additional hearing problems.
  5. Peripheral neuropathy: Cisplatin should be used with caution in patients with pre-existing peripheral neuropathy, as it can exacerbate nerve damage.
  6. Pregnancy: Cisplatin can harm the fetus, so it is contraindicated in pregnant women. Effective contraception should be used during and after treatment to prevent pregnancy.
  7. Breastfeeding: Cisplatin can be excreted in breast milk, so it is contraindicated in breastfeeding women.

Cisplatin can interact with several drugs, affecting its metabolism, efficacy, and toxicity profile.

Here are some of the drugs that can interact with cisplatin:

  1. Aminoglycoside antibiotics (e.g., gentamicin, tobramycin): Concurrent use with cisplatin can increase the risk of nephrotoxicity (kidney damage) and ototoxicity (damage to the inner ear, which can result in hearing loss).
  2. NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen): Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can increase the risk of nephrotoxicity when used with cisplatin. They can also mask the signs of inflammation, such as fever, which might be indicative of an infection in immunocompromised patients receiving chemotherapy.
  3. Diuretics (e.g., furosemide, torsemide): While diuretics can be used to promote diuresis and prevent cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity, excessive use can lead to electrolyte imbalances, such as hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, and dehydration, which can increase the risk of cisplatin toxicity.
  4. Cytotoxic drugs: Combining cisplatin with other cytotoxic drugs can increase the risk of myelosuppression (decreased bone marrow function) and other toxicities. The dosages of both drugs may need to be adjusted to prevent overlapping toxicities.
  5. Anticonvulsants (e.g., phenytoin, carbamazepine): These drugs can increase the metabolism of cisplatin, potentially reducing its efficacy.
  6. Antacids and H2 blockers (e.g., ranitidine, cimetidine): These medications can alter the pH of the stomach and intestines, potentially affecting the absorption of cisplatin.
  7. Penicillamine: This drug can chelate with cisplatin, forming complexes that may reduce the efficacy of cisplatin.
  8. Live virus vaccines: Cisplatin can weaken the immune system, so live virus vaccines should be administered with caution during and after cisplatin treatment to avoid potential infection from the vaccine.
  9. Other nephrotoxic drugs (e.g., vancomycin, amphotericin B): Concurrent use with cisplatin can increase the risk of kidney damage.

Dosage of cisplatin

The dosage of cisplatin can vary depending on the type and stage of cancer being treated, the patient’s overall health, and whether it is being used alone or in combination with other chemotherapy drugs. Here is a general outline of how cisplatin is typically administered:

Dosage of cisplatin
Dosage of cisplatin


  • Cisplatin is given by intravenous infusion (IV) into a vein. It is important that the IV is properly functioning and that the patient is well-hydrated before administration to minimize the risk of kidney damage.


  • The standard dose of cisplatin is often expressed as a flat dose, which is independent of body surface area (BSA). For example, a common dose for adults is 75 to 100 mg/m², given once every three to four weeks. However, specific dosages can vary widely depending on the cancer being treated and the treatment regimen.
  • In some cases, cisplatin may be given at a lower dose weekly or in combination with other chemotherapy drugs, which may require different dosing schedules.

Prevention of Nephrotoxicity:

  • Because cisplatin can cause kidney damage, it is standard practice to administer intravenous fluids before and after the cisplatin infusion to maintain adequate hydration and help flush the drug from the kidneys. This typically involves giving 1 to 2 liters of fluid per day for two to three days after the cisplatin dose.

Supportive Care:

  • Patients receiving cisplatin are also often given anti-emetics to prevent and manage nausea and vomiting, which is a common side effect of the drug.


  • During cisplatin treatment, patients will have regular blood tests to monitor kidney function, electrolyte levels, and blood cell counts. Adjustments to the dosage may be made if there are signs of toxicity or if blood tests indicate significant changes in organ function.

Pharmacological mechanism

Cisplatin exerts its antineoplastic effects through a variety of mechanisms, but its primary mode of action is believed to be the interference with DNA replication, which ultimately leads to cell death. Here’s a detailed explanation of cisplatin’s pharmacological mechanism:

  1. DNA Binding: Cisplatin enters cancer cells and is activated by hydrolysis, resulting in the formation of reactive species. The activated cisplatin molecule binds to the N7 position of guanine bases in DNA, forming cisplatin-guanine adducts. This binding occurs primarily in the DNA minor groove.
  2. Crosslinking of DNA: The platinum atom in cisplatin can also form covalent bonds between adjacent guanine bases, leading to the formation of intrastrand crosslinks. These crosslinks can occur between two guanine bases on the same DNA strand (intrastrand crosslinks) or between guanine bases on opposite DNA strands (interstrand crosslinks). The formation of these crosslinks distorts the DNA helix and prevents the DNA from being replicated or transcribed properly.
  3. DNA Damage Response Activation: The presence of cisplatin-DNA adducts triggers the cell’s DNA damage response (DDR), activating signaling pathways that lead to cell cycle arrest. This allows the cell to attempt to repair the DNA damage before continuing with the cell cycle.
  4. Repair Mechanisms: Cells have several DNA repair mechanisms to deal with cisplatin-induced DNA damage, such as nucleotide excision repair (NER) and homologous recombination (HR). However, if the damage is too severe or if the repair mechanisms are overwhelmed, the cell may undergo programmed cell death, or apoptosis.
  5. Apoptosis: The inability to properly repair cisplatin-induced DNA damage can lead to the activation of pro-apoptotic proteins and the inhibition of anti-apoptotic proteins, ultimately resulting in cell death.
  6. Cell Cycle Arrest: Cisplatin can also cause cell cycle arrest, predominantly at the G2/M phase, which prevents damaged cells from dividing and can lead to apoptosis.
  7. Immune Response: Recent research suggests that cisplatin may also modulate the immune response against cancer cells, potentially enhancing the effectiveness of immunotherapy when used in combination.

Cisplatin’s effectiveness in cancer treatment is due to its ability to selectively target rapidly dividing cancer cells, which generally have a higher rate of DNA replication and are more susceptible to DNA damage than normal cells. However, the drug can also affect normal, healthy cells, leading to the various side effects associated with PtCl2(NH3)2 treatment.


In the United States, the manufacturers of cisplatin include but are not limited to the following companies:

  1. Hospira (a subsidiary of Pfizer): Hospira is a well-known global supplier of injectable drugs and infusion technologies.
  2. Teva Pharmaceuticals: Teva is one of the world’s largest generic drug manufacturers.
  3. Mylan Pharmaceuticals: Mylan is also a large manufacturer of generic drugs.
  4. Fresenius Kabi: This company specializes in injectable drugs and infusion solutions.

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