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Gynecol Oncol. 2001 Sep;82(3):550-8.

Hypersensitivity reactions and the utility of oral and intravenous desensitization in patients with gynecologic malignancies.

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  • 1Department of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



The aims of this study were to characterize hypersensitivity reactions to chemotherapy in patients with gynecologic malignancies and to determine the utility of oral and intravenous desensitization.


We retrospectively reviewed patients with hypersensitivity reactions identified by direct physician query and by review of charts with ICD9 code E933.1 (Adverse Effect Anti-Neoplastic).


Thirty-two patients were identified: 27 with ovarian cancer, 4 with primary peritoneal cancer, and 1 with cervical cancer. Nine patients experienced hypersensitivity reactions during the primary regimen and 23 during chemotherapy for recurrent disease. Hypersensitivity occurred following an average of nine courses. Hypersensitivity occurred secondary to paclitaxel (10) carboplatin (16), cisplatin (4), bleomycin (1), and paclitaxel/carboplatin combination therapy (1). Patients had previously received the agent in 93.8% of carboplatin reactions, in 54.5% of paclitaxel reactions, and in all other agent reactions. Hypersensitivity reactions most commonly included flushing, dyspnea/bronchospasm, back pain, chest discomfort, pruritus, erythema, and nausea and occasionally included alterations in blood pressure or pulse rate. Reactions were successfully treated in 96.9% of patients by interrupting the infusion and administering steroids, antihistamines, benzodiazepines, nebulized beta-agonists, and/or pressors. Seventeen patients underwent desensitization, one to two agents, with 94% success. Nine of ten patients had successful iv desensitization, and 8/10 patients had successful oral desensitization. One failure on the oral regimen had previous successful iv desensitization.


Hypersensitivity reactions to chemotherapeutic agents do not necessarily require exclusion of a compound from the treatment regimen. Intravenous and oral desensitization protocols are useful for successful and safe administration of paclitaxel and platinum compounds in patients with prior hypersensitivity reactions.

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