Resources for Patients and their Families
Request Free Guide

Carboplatin and Mesothelioma


Carboplatin, sometimes known as paraplatin, is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug used to treat a number of cancers, including malignant pleural mesothelioma. Although carboplatin has been on the market since the late 1980s, it has not received formal FDA approval for mesothelioma treatment. However, the drug has been approved by the FDA to treat other cancers, including advanced ovarian cancer and breast cancer.

Carboplatin is a derivative of cisplatin, another platinum-based chemotherapy drug, but is less harsh and causes fewer side effects. As a result, cancer patients are often able to tolerate the therapy better and experience an improved quality of life. In mesothelioma patients, carboplatin is given as a substitute to cisplatin and is sometimes combined with other cancer drugs like Alimta.

Learn About Chemotherapy Options in Our Free Guide Learn About Chemotherapy Options in Our Free Guide

How Carboplatin Is Used to Treat Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma patients are typically given a combination of carboplatin and Alimta, also known as pemetrexed, through an IV, to help slow down the spread of cancer. It takes about 60 minutes to give a patient an intravenous carboplatin treatment and is repeated every 21 days, depending on the patient’s individual case and treatment needs. Factors that may determine the dosage of carboplatin include a patient’s general health, cancer stage, age and how they respond to the treatment cycles.

A carboplatin and pemetrexed combination therapy may be offered as a first-line chemotherapy option for patients with advanced stage pleural mesothelioma. One study suggested that carboplatin combined with pemetrexed could extend survival longer than the combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed. Patients who received cisplatin and pemetrexed had a median survival of 14.9 months, while those given carboplatin and pemetrexed survived 15.7 months.

Additionally, unlike cisplatin, which tends to be harsher on a person’s body, carboplatin stays in the body longer and poses fewer health risks and side effects. Patients who undergo chemotherapy using carboplatin and pemetrexed will be given folic acid tablets, oral steroids and an injection of Vitamin B12 to further reduce side effects.

Possible Side Effects of Carboplatin

Carboplatin, much like cisplatin, has a variety of side effects associated with it, but they tend to be less severe due to the drug’s composition. A doctor will perform blood tests to determine if dosage should change or stop and to monitor kidney function throughout the process.

Like most anti-cancer drugs, common side effects stemming from carboplatin use may include pain, nausea, hair loss or thinning, mouth sores, sore throat and swelling or redness near or at the injection site. Carboplatin may also cause several other severe side effects in rare cases.

Additional Carboplatin Side Effects
  • Allergic reactions, typically within a few minutes after the infusion is given
  • Decrease in bone marrow blood cells, which results in an increased chance of infection or bleeding and the possible need for a blood transfusion
  • If the patient is pregnant, carboplatin may cause damage to the fetus. Women should also not breastfeed while receiving the drug because it could transfer into their breast milk
  • Increased chance of developing another cancer
  • Peripheral neuropathy, which causes a tingly feeling in a patient’s hands and feet (much less common than with cisplatin)

Patients undergoing chemotherapy with carboplatin may suffer from lower red blood cell and white blood cell counts, and will have to take extra precautions to avoid getting sick. In most cases, symptoms caused by carboplatin will subside once the cancer treatment ends.

Studies Associated with Carboplatin

Numerous clinical trials over the years have proven that carboplatin can serve as a suitable replacement for cisplatin in patients with mesothelioma who are unable to tolerate its side effects. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, several phase 1 and phase 2 studies using a combination of pemetrexed and carboplatin showed similar results as a phase 3 study using pemetrexed and cisplatin, the parent drug of carboplatin. Patients who received the combination of carboplatin and pemetrexed had a median survival of 13 – 14 months, with about 7 – 8 months progression-free. In comparison, pemetrexed and cisplatin have showed varied survival times in different studies, with many noting survival around 12 – 16 months.

A phase 2 study evaluated the efficacy of carboplatin and pemetrexed as a first-line treatment for unresectable pleural mesothelioma. Of the 62 patients treated, 55% achieved stable disease, meaning there was no spreading or growth of tumors. An additional 29% of patients saw a partial response to the treatment. Researchers noted an average overall survival of 14 months, with a median seven months before disease progression. The cell type was a big factor in varied life expectancy, with epithelial patients surviving 16 months and sarcomatoid mesothelioma patients surviving 11 months on average.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari

Reviewer: Dr. James Stevenson

Medical Reviewer and Thoracic Medical Oncologist

Dr. James Stevenson

Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology. PARAPLATIN (carboplatin aqueous solution) INJECTION.

Cancer Research UK. Pemetrexed and carboplatin. Updated October 2017.

Ceresoli GL, Ceribelli A, et al. Phase II Study of Pemetrexed Plus Carboplatin in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Journal of Clinical Oncology. April 2006; 24(9):1443-1448. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2005.04.3190

de Lima VA, Sorensen JB. Third-line chemotherapy with carboplatin, gemcitabine and liposomised doxorubicin for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Medical Oncology. February 2015; 32(2):458. doi: 10.1007/s12032-014-0458-x

Katirtzoglou N, Gkiozos I, et al. Carboplatin Plus Pemetrexed as First-line Treatment of Patients With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: A Phase II Study. Clinical Lung Cancer. January 2010; 11(1):30-35. doi: 10.3816/CLC.2010.n.005

Kindler HL, Ismaila N, et al. Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline. Journal of Clinical Oncology. May 2018; 36(13):1343-1373. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2017.76.6394

MedlinePlus. Carboplatin Injection.Updated December 2012.

National Cancer Institute. Carboplatin. Updated July 2018.

OncoLink. Carboplatin (Paraplatin®). Updated September 2017.

PubChem Open Chemistry Database. Carboplatin. Updated October 2018.

Srour SA, Stoner JA. Pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin versus carboplatin as first-line therapy in patients with advanced-stage malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM): A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Oncology. May 2016; 34(15):8554-8554. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.34.15_suppl.8554

The Institute of Cancer Research. Discovering early chemotherapy drugs.

Mesothelioma Treatment Guide

Free Mesothelioma Treatment Guide

Please fill in the form below to request our FREE Mesothelioma Treatment Guide. It will be sent to you within 24 hours.

Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with mesothelioma?

Get Access To:

Legal Rights Information Guide Free Guide Request Free Guide Free Mesothelioma Guide Free 2019 Mesothelioma Guide