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Generic NameBrand Name

How It Works

Oxaliplatin interrupts cancer cell growth and slows the spread of cancer cells in the body. Oxaliplatin is available for use by intravenous (IV) injection.

Why It Is Used

Oxaliplatin is used in combination with other medicines to treat cancer, such as colorectal cancer. Oxaliplatin is also used to treat cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized), such as advanced ovarian cancer.

How Well It Works

Studies show that oxaliplatin may be effective in stopping some cancer cell activity that is resistant to some other anticancer drugs, such as cisplatin and carboplatin. Oxaliplatin seems to help people with metastatic colorectal cancer live longer when given with other medicines such as FOLFOX4 or with 5-FU and leucovorin.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Numbness, burning, and tingling in the hands or feet. This is from nerve damage and is called peripheral neuropathy. Sometimes the neuropathy goes away after stopping the medicine. But for other people, the nerve damage may be permanent.
  • Upset stomach and indigestion.
  • Sores in the mouth or throat.
  • Weakness or fatigue.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Oxaliplatin may cause anemia, kidney or liver problems, or low blood counts. Your doctor will check and closely watch you for these problems and monitor your blood counts.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Libutti SK, et al. (2011). Cancer of the colon. In VT DeVita Jr. et al., eds., DeVita, Hellman and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology, 9th ed., pp. 1084–1126. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKenneth Bark, MD - Surgery, Colon and Rectal
Last RevisedSeptember 5, 2012

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