Monday, June 15, 2009

Bisphosphonates for myeloma

Bisphosphonates are drugs used to prevent or treat high calcium levels in myeloma.
Bisphosphonates work by “coating” the surface of your bones protecting them from the damaging effect of myeloma cells. By preventing bone destruction these drugs also help to reduce bone pain, the risk of bone fractures, hypercalcaemia (excess calcium in the blood) and strengthen the bones. Relief from bone pain improves physical activity which promotes bone strength and healing.
Bisphosphonates usually have minimal side effects; however they can cause the blood calcium to drop below normal levels causing muscle cramps or spasms. Occasionally patients may develop a fever after an intravenous infusion of a bisphosphonate. Other rare side effects include kidney damage and damage to the jaw bone (osteonecrosis of the jaw). Your Doctor may recommend a dental check up.
In New Zealand we use the bisphosphonate (pamidronate Aredia) given intravenously over 2 hours. It is available orally but not in New Zealand.
I was given Aredia monthly until my first stem cell transplant then resumed it about four months later.
The first time I received Aredia I suffered for several days the side effects of cold chills and flu like symptoms. This was also repeated at the second infusion a month later though not as bad. On the third infusion I only suffered minor flu like symptoms over night, on subsequent infusions nothing. Apparently if the infusion time is extended to 3 hours less side effects are experienced. My side effect symptoms were controlled by panadol.

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