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Generic Name

Cisplatin is an intravenous (IV) medicine usually given in a dose that is based on body surface area. The type and extent of a cancer determines the exact dose and schedule of administering this drug.

How It Works

Cisplatin is a heavy metal that kills cells by interfering with the multiplication of cancer cells. It affects all phases of the cell cycle. It is used specifically in the treatment of cancer.

Why It Is Used

Cisplatin slows or stops the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. It may be used to treat advanced bladder cancer or metastatic cancers such as testicular or ovarian cancer.

How Well It Works

Cisplatin is an effective anti-tumour medicine. It is one of the main drugs used for many types of cancer and is often combined with other cancer drugs. The type and extent of a cancer determines how effectively this medicine slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in the body.

Side Effects

Side effects are common with cisplatin. Most side effects of chemotherapy, including hair loss, go away after you finish treatment. Side effects can include:

  • Decreased white blood counts and possibly reduced red blood cell and platelet counts.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
  • Headache or seizures.
  • Hair loss.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Mouth sores (stomatitis).
  • Peripheral neuropathies, which may be irreversible and may be made worse by exercise. Symptoms include:
    • Numbness and tingling.
    • Unsteadiness when standing or walking.
    • Clumsiness of the hands and feet.
  • Ear problems (ototoxicity), which may not get better. Symptoms include:
    • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
    • Hearing loss, especially high tones, or deafness.
    • Vertigo.
  • Eye problems, such as blurred vision or loss of the ability to see colours.
  • Kidney damage, which may or may not get better. Keeping plenty of fluids in the body during treatment may be helpful.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Cisplatin is administered only under the supervision of a medical oncologist.

Cisplatin can affect your ability to have children. You may not be able to get pregnant or father a child after taking this medicine. Discuss fertility with your doctor before starting treatment.

Cisplatin can cause birth defects. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant or father a child while you are taking it.

Your doctor can prescribe medicines to help you manage any nausea or vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

Do not use this medicine if you have:

  • Had a previous allergic reaction to cisplatin or other medicines that contain platinum.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Hearing loss.
  • A history of gout and kidney stones.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Last Revised July 5, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.