Oxaliplatin, or Eloxatin

This patient-friendly review is on Oxaliplatin (or Eloxatin), a platinum-based cancer drug which inhibits DNA repair and is most commonly used with 5-FU and Folinic acid in the combination FOLFOX, or FOLFIRI to treat advanced colorectal cancer or FOLFIRINOX to treat pancreatic cancer; it is given by injection into a vein.

Oxaliplatin was approved by the FDA in 2002 and now is most usually used in combination with other drugs to treat stage III bowel cancer or colorectal cancer. It may also be used in this combination to 'mop up' circulating cancer cells after surgery. Oxaliplatin uses platinum to block cancer cell division. It is usually given by infusion into a vein over a two-hour period. To date there has been no research suggesting that oxaliplatin reduced long-term symptoms of cancer, or to prove Clinical Benefit, according to CentreWatch.

Research on Oxaliplatin: The European Society of Medical Oncology Congress in Nice, France heard from a US team on their original findings with the cancer drug oxaliplatin. People with advanced bowel cancer using the drug oxaliplatin with other chemotherapy are being told they can see a 70 per cent delay in the progression of tumours. Preliminary trial results found there was a significant improvement in symptoms among patients taking it in combination with two standard drugs 5-FU and leucovorin (Folinic acid).

Dr Mace Rothenberg from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Centre in Nashville, led the research, which involved 821 patients with advanced bowel or colorectal cancer who were given oxliplatin or 5-FU or leucovorin alone, or a combination of the three drugs. In those who took the combination of all the drugs, there was a 70 per cent delay in the progression of the tumour and this along with shrinkage of the tumour lasted for a minimum of four weeks. Dr Rothenberg said: "We found that patients suffered less from pain, weight loss and fatigue with the combination therapy".

Side-effects of Oxaliplatin: Upset stomach, nausea, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, hearing loss, abnormal heart beat. Fatigue, neutropenia, leukopenia.

Tingling, numbness or burning in the hands, feet, mouth and throat may occur. Cold temperature, food or drinks may make this worse.

Warning: In extreme cases, patients can have nerve problems (stiff tongue, eye pains, jaw stiffness) that may be long-term or even life threatening. A condition called Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome can occur.  Patients should contact their doctor or hospital immediately. This medicine may also cause irregular and even deadly heart beat rates.

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Go to: Is your drug affected by Grapefruit?

Go to: Colorectal Cancer overview - symptoms, causes and alternative treatments 

Return to: The A-Z Guide to cancer drugs

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