Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin®)

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About This Drug

Oxaliplatin is used to treat cancer. It is given in the vein (IV).

Possible Side Effects

  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and  platelets. This may raise your risk of infection, make you tired and weak (fatigue), and raise your risk of bleeding.
  • Tiredness
  • Soreness of the mouth and throat. You may have red areas, white patches, or sores that hurt.
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Changes in your liver function
  • Effects on the nerves are called peripheral neuropathy. You may feel numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands and feet, and may be worse in cold temperatures. It may be hard for you to  button your clothes, open jars, or walk as usual. The effect on the nerves may get worse with more doses of the drug. These effects get better in some people after the drug is stopped but it  does not get better in all people.

Note: Each of the side effects above was reported in 40% or greater of patients treated with oxaliplatin. Not all possible side effects are included above.

Warnings and Precautions

  • Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, which may be life-threatening are rare but may happen in some patients. Signs of allergic reaction to this drug may be swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, trouble breathing, rash, itching, fever, chills, feeling dizzy, and/or feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way. If this happens, do not take another dose of this drug. You should get urgent medical treatment.
  • Inflammation (swelling) of the lungs, which may be life-threatening. You may have a dry cough or trouble breathing.
  • Effects on the nerves (neuropathy) may resolve within 14 days, or it may persist beyond 14 days.
  • Severe decrease in white blood cells when combined with the chemotherapy agents 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin. This may be life-threatening.
  • Severe changes in your liver function
  • Abnormal heart beat and/or EKG, which can be life-threatening
  • Rhabdomyolysis - damage to your muscles which may release proteins in your blood and affect how your kidneys work, which can be life-threatening. You may have severe muscle weakness and/or pain, or dark urine.

Important Information

  • This drug may be present in the saliva, tears, sweat, urine, stool, vomit, semen, and vaginal secretions. Talk to your doctor and/or your nurse about the necessary precautions to take during this time.
  • The effects on the nerves can be aggravated by exposure to cold. Avoid cold beverages, use of ice and make sure you cover your skin and dress warmly prior to being exposed to cold temperatures while you are receiving treatment with oxaliplatin.

Treating Side Effects

  • Manage tiredness by pacing your activities for the day.
  • Be sure to include periods of rest between energy-draining activities.
  • To decrease infection, wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have a cold, the flu, or other infections.
  • Take your temperature as your doctor or nurse tells you, and whenever you feel like you may have a fever.
  • To help decrease bleeding, use a soft toothbrush. Check with your nurse before using dental floss.
  • Be very careful when using knives or tools.
  • Use an electric shaver instead of a razor.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight glasses per day is recommended).
  • Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of routine, gentle cleaning of your teeth or dentures and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water or ½ teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water. This should be done at least after each meal and at bedtime.
  • If you have mouth sores, avoid mouthwash that has alcohol. Also avoid alcohol and smoking because they can bother your mouth and throat.
  • To help with nausea and vomiting, eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals a day. Choose foods and drinks that are at room temperature. Ask your nurse or doctor about other helpful tips and medicine that is available to help or stop lessen these symptoms.
  • If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
  • If you get diarrhea, eat low-fiber foods that are high in protein and calories and avoid foods that can irritate your digestive tracts or lead to cramping.
  • Ask your nurse or doctor about medicine that can lessen or stop your diarrhea.
  • If you have numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, be careful when cooking, walking, and handling sharp objects and hot liquids.
  • Do not drink cold drinks or use ice in beverages. Drink fluids at room temperature or warmer, and drink through a straw.
  • Wear gloves to touch cold objects, and wear warm clothing and cover you skin during cold weather.

Food and Drug Interactions

  • There are no known interactions of oxaliplatin with food and other medications.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the prescription and over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not  use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's help.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if you have any of these symptoms and/or any new or unusual symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Pain in your chest
  • Dry cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain in your mouth or throat that makes it hard to eat or drink
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) 4 times a day or loose bowel movements with lack of strength or a feeling of being dizzy
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain your hands and feet
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Signs of possible liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Signs of rhabdomyolysis: decreased urine, very dark urine, muscle pain in the shoulders, thighs, or lower back; muscle weakness or trouble moving arms and legs
  • Signs of allergic reaction: swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, trouble breathing, rash, itching, fever, chills, feeling dizzy, and/or feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way
  • If you think you may be pregnant

Reproduction Warnings

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn baby. Women of child bearing potential should use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment. Let your doctor know right away if you think you may be pregnant or may have impregnated your partner.
  • Breastfeeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment  with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breast feeding baby.
  • Fertility warning: Human fertility studies have not been done with this drug. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children. Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.

Revised May 2018