This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Treosulfan which is most commonly used to treat ovarian cancer but is sometimes used in high doses for leukaemia before bone marrow or stem cell transplant. It is an alkylating agent which prevents cell division by damaging the cancer cell’s DNA. It is administered by capsules, intravenously or through an abdominal injection

A study by the Scottish Gynaecological Cancer Trials Group (SGCTG) showed that the management of older and unfit women with advanced ovarian cancer requires post-operative chemotherapy but many of these patients are not suitable for high-dose cisplatin-based regimes. Carboplatin has been an easier alternative and can be given in the ambulatory setting. Historical data suggests that oral alkylating agents to be just effective. In this study we have compared platinum-based carboplatin to the alkylating agent treosulfan in a population unfit to receive high-dose cisplatin.

The trial randomised patients to either intravenous carboplatin or treosulfan as single agent. The trial was stopped prematurely after the interim analysis showed improved survival and response rates in the carboplatin arm.

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We conclude that carboplatin is a safe and effective drug in a population that is unfit for high-dose cisplatin. Treosulfan showed limited activity but may be considered along with other oral drugs in limited circumstances. With the exception of myelosuppression, toxicity was mild in both arms. Carboplatin remains the gold standard in this older and less fit group of patients.

Side effects can include: fatigue, lowered resistance to infection, anaemia, bruising and bleeding, skin colour changes, nausea and vomiting, temporary hair thinning. Rarely there is can be skin rashes, blood in the urine, scarring in the lungs.

Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects

Other articles that you may find interesting are:

  1. A diet for Chemotherapy
  2. Immunotherapy overview
  3. A to Z Guide to Complementary Therapies

Go to: Return to the CANCERactive drug list


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