What is Oxaliplatin?

Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) is an alkylating, platinum-derived chemotherapy medication. It is used to treat colon cancer (stage III, adjuvant therapy) and advanced colorectal cancer. Oxaliplatin has several non-FDA approved, off-label indications including: advanced biliary adenocarcinoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, advanced pancreatic cancer and refractory testicular cancer. Oxaliplatin damages DNA structures, preventing cells from replicating properly. This ultimately leads to cell death.

How is it administered?

Oxaliplatin is intravenously administered as an infusion. The infusion length is typically 2 hours, however infusions can be lengthened if the medication is not well tolerated. Of particular importance during, and for several hours after the infusion, is the sensitivity to cold. Consumption of cold foods and beverages should be avoided for several hours. This medication can be nauseating; pre-medications are typically infused prior to administration to help prevent the occurrence of nausea.

What to expect:

Oxaliplatin can cause anemia and reduce the body’s ability to fight infections. Additionally, it can cause numbness, pain and tingling in the extremities. It is important to report any changes in feelings of the extremities to your provider immediately. Other side effects include: fatigue, headache, insomnia, diarrhea, weight loss, upset stomach, constipation, increases in liver enzymes, back pain, shortness of breath, cough and fever. Typically, medications to have on hand at home will be prescribed to help manage any nausea that may develop in the days following treatment. Laboratory tests will be performed routinely throughout the course of therapy to help manage and monitor the development of these side effects.