Peter C. Kurniali, MD | Authors

Role of Calcium/Magnesium Infusion in Oxaliplatin-Based Chemotherapy for Colorectal Cancer Patients

March 22, 2010

The combination of oxaliplatin plus fluorouracil/leucovorin is known as the FOLFOX regimen, and it has become a standard regimen for colorectal cancer (CRC), both as adjuvant therapy and as treatment for metastatic disease. Unfortunately, platinum-based chemotherapies also produce neurotoxicity as a side effect. Neurotoxicity is the most common dose-limiting toxicity of oxaliplatin, and it is one of the major causes for patients to stop receiving chemotherapy. It can manifest as either of two distinct syndromes: a transient, acute syndrome that can appear during or shortly after the infusion (~1%–2% of patients), and a dose-limiting, cumulative sensory neuropathy. Calcium/magnesium (Ca/Mg) infusions have been used to decrease the incidence of oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy. The actual utility of Ca/Mg infusions in this setting has been an interesting and controversial topic. They may reduce the severity of neurotoxicity, but some investigators have questioned whether they also will alter the efficacy of these chemotherapy regimens. In this paper, we review the clinical data concerning the usefulness of Ca/Mg infusions in reducing the incidence of oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy as well as their effect on responsiveness to chemotherapy.