Risk stratification for desensitization of patients with carboplatin hypersensitivity: Clinical presentation and management

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Women with ovarian cancer treated with chemotherapeutic platinum agents frequently develop hypersensitivity reactions (HSRs). How best to risk-stratify patients for desensitization is uncertain.


To evaluate skin test (ST) reactivity to carboplatin in patients with recent and remote histories of carboplatin HSR and to review the relationship between skin test reactivity and tolerance of subsequent carboplatin desensitization.


Thirty-eight women with carboplatin HSR were evaluated by ST to carboplatin. Thirty women subsequently underwent 106 desensitizations to carboplatin.


Carboplatin ST was positive in 25 of 38 patients (66%). Of patients with recent HSR (<3 months), 20 of 24 (83%) tested positive, whereas 5 of 14 (36%) with remote HSR (>9 months) tested positive (P< .01). Nineteen carboplatin ST+ and 11 ST− patients underwent desensitization to carboplatin. Seven ST+ patients (37%) had mild HSR during desensitization but completed the desensitization with additional treatment or protocol modification. ST− patients with a recent history of HSR (n = 3) tolerated a rapid protocol without HSR and remained ST- with repeated testing. Six of 8 ST− patients (75%) with remote HSR reacted during desensitization. The HSRs were more severe and often associated with an elevated tryptase level. Five of 7 patients retested became ST+ before the second desensitization. Carboplatin desensitization was successfully completed in 105 of 106 (99%) treatment courses.


The timing of carboplatin ST in relation to initial HSR is vital for risk stratification and subsequent desensitization. Initial ST− patients with a remote history of HSR are at high risk for conversion to ST+ and can develop more severe HSR.

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