Satraplatin is a chemotherapy drug used in research trials to treat some kinds of cancer. This information should ideally be read with our general information about chemotherapy and your type of cancer.
Satraplatin is mainly being researched for use in the treatment of prostate cancer that's no longer responding to hormone therapy (hormone refractory prostate cancer). It is also being researched as a treatment for other cancers, such as ovarian cancer and lung cancer.
You'll see your hospital doctor regularly while you have this treatment so they can monitor the effects of the chemotherapy.
When a drug is being developed, it has to go through various stages of research called clinical trials or studies. These are intended to establish a safe dosage and find out what side effects the drug may cause. Trials can also show how effective a drug is, and whether it is better than the existing treatments or has extra benefit when given alongside existing treatments.
Many drugs thought to be promising may be found not to be as good as existing treatments, or to have side effects that outweigh any benefits. For this reason, doctors and other medical staff carry out frequent and careful checks on the progress of every patient taking drugs as part of a research trial.
If you're taking a drug as part of a trial, your doctor will explain all about the drug, the procedures being used, and how you will be looked after while you're taking it. If you're worried at any time, you should ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for information and advice.
What satraplatin looks like
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Satraplatin is available as a blue and yellow capsule.
Satraplatin capsules should be swallowed whole with plenty of water. Don't open the capsules.
Chemotherapy is usually given as a course of several sessions (cycles) of treatment over a few months. The length of your treatment and the number of cycles you have will depend on the type of cancer you're being treated for. Your nurse or doctor will discuss your treatment plan with you.
Before you begin your treatment, your doctor will arrange for you to have blood tests. You'll usually be given anti-sickness drugs before and/or during your treatment.
Each person’s reaction to chemotherapy is different. Some people have very few side effects while others may experience more. The side effects described here won't affect everyone who has satraplatin, and may be different if you're having more than one type of chemotherapy drug.
We have outlined the most common side effects but haven't included those that are rare and unlikely to affect you. However, as satraplatin is still a relatively new treatment, it may be too early to know all of the possible side effects. If you notice any effects that aren't listed here, discuss them with your doctor, chemotherapy nurse or pharmacist.
Satraplatin can reduce the number of red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. A low red blood cell count is called anaemia. This may make you feel tired and breathless. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have these symptoms. You may need to have a blood transfusion if the number of red blood cells becomes too low.
Satraplatin can cause diarrhoea. This can usually be easily controlled with medicine, but tell your doctor if it's severe or continues. It's important to drink plenty of fluids if you have diarrhoea.
You may get constipated. This can usually be helped by drinking plenty of fluids, eating more fibre and doing some gentle exercise. You may need to take medicine (laxatives) to help. Your doctor can prescribe these or you can buy them at a pharmacy.
Feeling tired is a common side effect of chemotherapy, especially towards the end of treatment and for some weeks after it’s over. It’s important to try to pace yourself and get as much rest as you need. Try to balance this with some gentle exercise, such as short walks, which will help. If tiredness is making you feel sleepy, don’t drive or operate machinery.
Feeling sick (nausea) and being sick (vomiting)
This may begin soon after the treatment is given and can last for a few days. Your doctor can prescribe very effective anti-sickness (anti-emetic) drugs to prevent or greatly reduce nausea and vomiting. If the sickness isn't controlled, or if it continues, tell your doctor; they can prescribe other anti-sickness drugs that may be more effective.
Some anti-sickness drugs can cause constipation. Let your doctor or nurse know if this is a problem.
Risk of infection
Satraplatin can reduce the number of white blood cells, which help fight infection. White blood cells are produced by the bone marrow. If the number of your white blood cells is low you'll be more prone to infections. A low white blood cell count is called neutropenia.
Neutropenia can begin seven days after treatment, and your resistance to infection usually reaches its lowest point about 28 days after chemotherapy. The number of your white blood cells will then increase steadily and usually return to normal before your next cycle of chemotherapy is due.
Contact your doctor or the hospital straight away if:
your temperature goes above 38ºC (100.4ºF)
you suddenly feel unwell even with a normal temperature.
You'll have a blood test before having more chemotherapy to check the number of white blood cells in your blood. Occasionally, it may be necessary to delay your treatment if the number of your blood cells (blood count) is still low.
Bruising and bleeding
Satraplatin can reduce the production of platelets, which help the blood to clot. Tell your doctor if you have any unexplained bruising or bleeding, such as nosebleeds, bleeding gums, blood spots or rashes on the skin. You may need to have a platelet transfusion if your platelet count is low.
It’s important to let your doctor know straight away if you feel unwell or have any severe side effects, even if they’re not mentioned above.
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Risk of developing a blood clot
Cancer can increase the risk of developing a blood clot (thrombosis), and chemotherapy may increase this risk further.
A blood clot may cause symptoms such as pain, redness and swelling in a leg, or breathlessness and chest pain. Blood clots can be very serious, so it’s important to tell your doctor straight away if you notice any of these symptoms. Most clots can be treated with drugs that thin the blood. The doctor or nurse can give you more information.
Some medicines, including those you can buy in a shop or chemist, can be harmful to take when you're having chemotherapy. Tell your doctor about any medicines you're taking, including over-the-counter drugs, complementary therapies and herbal drugs.
Your ability to become pregnant or father a child may be affected by having this treatment. It's important to discuss fertility with your doctor before starting treatment.
It's not advisable to become pregnant or father a child while taking satraplatin as it may harm the developing baby. It's important to use effective contraception while taking this drug and for at least a few months afterwards. You can discuss this with your doctor or nurse.
It’s not known whether chemotherapy drugs can be present in semen or vaginal fluids. To protect your partner, it’s safest to either avoid sex or use a barrier form of contraception for about 48 hours after chemotherapy.
If you’re admitted to hospital for a reason not related to the cancer, it’s important to tell the doctors and nurses looking after you that you're having chemotherapy treatment. You should tell them the name of your cancer specialist so that they can ask for advice.
It’s a good idea to know who you should contact if you have any problems or troublesome side effects when you’re at home. Your chemotherapy nurse or doctor will give you details of who to contact for advice. This should include ‘out-of hours’ contact details if you need to call someone at evenings, overnight or at the weekend.
Things to remember about satraplatin capsules
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It's important to take your capsules at the right times as directed by your doctor.
Always tell any doctors treating you for non-cancerous conditions that you’re taking a course of chemotherapy capsules that shouldn’t be stopped or restarted without the advice of your cancer specialist.
Keep the capsules in their original packaging, and in a safe place out of the reach of children.
If your doctor decides to stop the treatment, return any remaining capsules to the hospital. Don't flush them down the toilet or throw them away.
If you're sick just after taking the capsules, let your doctor know. You may need to take another dose. Don't take another tablet without telling your doctor first.
If you forget to take a capsule, don't take a double dose. Inform your doctor and keep to your regular dose schedule.
This section is based on our satraplatin fact sheet, which has been compiled using information from a number of reliable sources, including:
Witjes JA, et al. Pain and PSA Responses in Metastatic Hormone Refractory Prostate Cancer Treated with Satraplatin: Results of the SPARC Phase III Trial (Satraplatin and Prednisolone Against Refractory Cancer). 2007. Poster Presentation EAU.
Petrylak D, et al. A Phase III, Randomized, Placebo Controlled Trial of Satraplatin and Prednisolone vs. Placebo and Prednisolone for Patients with Hormone Refractory Prostate Cancer (HRPC). 2007. Poster Presentation ASCO.
Sternberg CN, et al. Multinational, Double-Blind, Phase III Study of Prednisone and Either Satraplatin or Placebo in Patients With Castrate-Refractory Prostate Cancer Progressing After Prior Chemotherapy: The SPARC Trial. 2009 Oct 05. J Clin Oncol.
electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC). www.medicines.org.uk (accessed October 2011).