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Pamidronate and zoledronic acid are given in IVs (intravenously)
to treat cancer that has spread to the bone. Usually treatment is needed only
once a month.
Cancer cells that have spread to the bone upset the normal cellular
activity in the bone. Bisphosphonates slow the activity of these cancer cells
and help to reduce the breakdown of the bone. This relieves pain and helps keep
bones from breaking.
Bisphosphonates are used to treat bone pain caused by cancer that
has spread to bone (bone metastasis). They also help reduce pain from cancers
that begin in the bone, such as
Bisphosphonates decrease fractures and relieve bone pain in people
who have multiple myeloma or cancer that has spread to the bones.1
Side effects of bisphosphonates can include:
Possible side effects that can occur but are not common include:
Some people taking bisphosphonates have problems with bone decay or
delayed bone healing, particularly in the jaw. If you
are taking bisphosphonates and need dental surgery, talk with your doctor about
the risk of problems with bone healing.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference
is not available in all systems.)
Bisphosphonates are not usually recommended for people with severe kidney disease. Your doctor will test your kidney function before prescribing bisphosphonates, especially if you are considering zoledronic acid (Zometa).
If you are considering a bisphosphonate that is taken by mouth, be sure to tell your doctor if you have ever had serious heartburn or problems with your esophagus (the tube that connects your throat to your stomach).
Your doctor may suggest that you take
vitamin D supplements while taking bisphosphonates to
help keep your bones strong. But be sure to talk with your doctor before taking
a vitamin or mineral supplement, because some minerals can interfere with the
way these drugs work.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Foley KM, Abernathy A (2008). Management of cancer pain. In VT DeVita Jr et al., eds., DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2757–2790. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
October 31, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Michael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology
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North Kansas City Hospital.