Cisplatin is a chemotherapy medicine used to treat certain types of cancer.

How is cisplatin given?

It is given as an infusion into a vein (intravenously or IV) through a cannula, central venous catheter or implantable port.

What are the side effects of cisplatin?

Nausea and vomiting

Cisplatin is one of the drugs which causes severe nausea and vomiting. Anti-sickness drugs can be given to reduce or prevent these symptoms. Please tell your doctor or nurse if your child’s sickness is not controlled or persists.

Strange taste

It is possible that your child may experience a strange taste whilst receiving cisplatin. This is temporary.

Loss of appetite

It is possible that your child’s appetite may decrease while having treatment. If you are concerned about your child’s diet, please ask to speak to one of the dietitians.

Bone marrow suppression

There will be a temporary reduction in how well your child’s bone marrow works. This means he or she may become anaemic, bruise or bleed more easily than usual, and have a higher risk of infection. Your child’s blood count will be checked regularly to see how the bone marrow is working. Please tell your doctor if your child seems unusually tired, has bruising or bleeding, or any signs of infection, especially a high temperature.

Altered kidney function

Cisplatin may change how well your child’s kidneys work over a period of time by causing the kidneys to leak important minerals and salts. Your child may have a blood and urine test or a GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate) before treatment is started and then at stages during and after treatment to monitor kidney function.

Changes in hearing

As your child’s treatment progresses, he or she may not initially be able to hear high pitched sounds. If further treatment with cisplatin is necessary, then your child’s hearing may deteriorate further. Your child will have a hearing test before and during the course of treatment and at long-term follow up clinics. If your child develops a hearing loss, please discuss this with your doctor or nurse. If your child is of school age, it will also be necessary to discuss this with your child’s teachers.

Numbness, tingling or aches and pains

This can happen because of the effect of cisplatin on your child’s nervous system. Your child may complain of aches and pains in their legs. If you notice your child has difficulty walking, please tell the doctor. The future dosage of cisplatin may then be lowered. These side effects are temporary and usually wear off a few months after treatment has finished.

Allergic reaction

Some children receiving cisplatin may have an allergic reaction to the drug. This reaction may be mild to severe. Signs of a mild allergic reaction include skin rashes and itching, high temperature, shivering, redness of the face, a feeling of dizziness or a headache. If you see any of these signs, please report them to a doctor or nurse. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include any of the above, as well as shortness of breath or chest pain. If your child shows signs of a severe allergic reaction, call a doctor or nurse immediately.


Please tell your doctor or nurse if your child has diarrhoea which is not controlled or persists. It is important that your child drinks lots of fluids.

Cisplatin and interactions with other medicines

Some medicines can react with cisplatin, altering how well it works. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving your child any other medicine, including medicines on prescription from your family doctor (GP), medicines bought from a pharmacy (chemist) or any herbal or complementary medicines. 

Compiled by: 
The Pharmacy department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group
Last review date: 
May 2013


Please read this information sheet from GOSH alongside the patient information leaflet (PIL) provided by the manufacturer. If you do not have a copy of the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet please talk to your pharmacist. A few products do not have a marketing authorisation (licence) as a medicine and therefore there is no PIL.

For children in particular, there may be conflicts of information between the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet (PIL) and guidance provided by GOSH and other healthcare providers. For example, some manufacturers may recommend, in the patient information leaflet, that a medicine is not given to children aged under 12 years. In most cases, this is because the manufacturer will recruit adults to clinical trials in the first instance and therefore the initial marketing authorisation (licence) only covers adults and older children.  

For new medicines, the manufacturer then has to recruit children and newborns into trials (unless the medicine is not going to be used in children and newborns) and subsequently amend the PIL with the approved information. Older medicines may have been used effectively for many years in children without problems but the manufacturer has not been required to collect data and amend the licence. This does not mean that it is unsafe for children and young people to be prescribed such a medicine ‘off-licence/off-label’. However, if you are concerned about any conflicts of information, please discuss with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.