Platinum-based cancer treatment

platinum therapy crystals
Cisplatin crystals

by Ross Bonander

Platinum based therapy refers to a specific class of cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs that are derived from the element platinum.

The first platinum based chemotherapy drug discovered by researchers was cisplatin, which forty years later continues to have applications in certain types of cancer. In that time, scientists have searched for ways to improve the anti-tumor efficacy of platinum based drugs, reducing the toxicity profile, and strengthening them against resistance by expanding the class to include several new analogues of cisplatin and putting them through clinical trials to broaden the different types of cancers against which they can be safely used.

Platinum based chemotherapy drugs

Use these links to read more about each platinum-based drug:

What it's effective for and why

The various platinum-based chemotherapy drugs are generally used against advanced, metastatic forms of colon cancer, small cell and non-small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, adrenocortical cancer, anal cancer, endometrial cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ovarian cancer, testicular cancer, melanoma and head and neck cancers. These drugs may also be used to treat other cancers, as per oncologists see fit.

To treat these cancers, platinum based drugs are often used in combination with chemotherapy drugs from other classes, including taxanes and anthracyclines. Common combination chemotherapy regimens involving platinum drugs include DHAP, ESHAP, ICE, DTPACE and CBD to name just a few.

Side effects: Overview

Platinum based chemotherapy drugs are known to be rather tough to endure in terms of side effects. Arguably, cisplatin is regarded as the platinum drug with the most severe side effects, including neurotoxicity, nephrotoxicity (kidney damage), ototoxicity (hearing damage), nausea and vomiting,

Each patient will have his or her own responses to chemotherapy drugs, and they may or may not be similar to those listed here. In any case, each patient is urged to communicate their side effects to their doctor or oncology team at the moment of onset.


  • Kelland Lloyd R et al. 2000. Platinum-Based Drugs in Cancer Therapy. New Jersey. Humana Press.
  • Ko, Andrew H MD et al. 2008. Everyone's Guide to Cancer Therapy, Fifth Ed. Kansas City. Andres McMeel Publishing LLC.
  • Boyiadzis, Michael M. et al. Hematology-Oncology Therapy. 2007. New York: McGraw Hill, Medical Publishing Division.


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