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What are the side effects from Zometa IV?

dianebraun's picture
Posts: 51
Joined: Apr 2010

Hi Everyone!  I am taking Arimadex and was diagnosed with osteopenia.  My doc rec. Zometa IV because "new studies" show this will repair the bone and will give me a 4% less chance of a wandering cancer cell adhering to the weak bone and causing bone cancer.  Has anyone gone on Zometa IV and what were your side effects?  I know this is given for bone cancer also.  I am hoping all the nasty side effects are because the bone cancer strength is stronger and mine won't be as bad.  Not looking forward to this, but the other alternatives won't heal the damage so I opted for this route, at least one dose anyway.


camul's picture
Posts: 2541
Joined: Dec 2010

The only se I use was aching bones which was résolu taken car of with otc Claritan.  I would take one b4 leaving the house, and another thé next day. That usually took care of it. Somerimes  I took it à little longer.  I got monthly infusions for a little over 2 years.  You need to make sure your Dr. Watches for necrosis if you are on it for any length of time.

carkris's picture
Posts: 4554
Joined: Aug 2009

I did it twice a year, for 3 years. I had pretty much all the side effects, but the good news was, each time it was less and less, until it wasnt that big of a deal

CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

The most common side effect can be a flu-like feeling.  Tylenol can help.  This seems to get better over time.  I never had this problem.

I can't really compare your experience fully to mine because someone like me, with known bone metastases, is on a much, much higher dose than you will be on and much more frequent a dose.  But I can tell you what us higher dose folks are more likely to have trouble with.

Zometa can hit the kidneys pretty hard, but this is avoided with good hydration (drink lots of fluids that day) and most oncs also give you extra IV fluids to prevent any problem.  I did not have any kidney problems.

I did zometa 2-3 years without any problems and then switched to xgeva.  Xgeva is nearly the same drug but is given via an intramuscular shot in the arm.  It does not usually affect the kidneys.  Iasked to switch to zometa because I didn't like the IV infusion.  I wanted to get up and go.

Both drugs (bisphosphonates) are highly effective in reducing what are called SRE's (skeletal related events).  They definitely strengthen bone and reduce the risk of fractures associated with bone metastases.  There are some studies showing they may also prevent bone metastases.

I had to stop xgeva this year after 8 years of therapy.  I developed a small ulcer over my jawbone which is an early sign of jaw osteonecrosis (usual ulcers occur over soft tissue not bone). 

On either zometa or xgeva, good oral hygiene is crucial.  It is preferable to see your dentist before starting therapy and make sure and go back every 6 months so they can check you out and keep your teeth clean.  It is ok to have cavities filled, but you should avoid especially dental extractions and implants while on the drug.  I printed out the instructions for my dentist.  My dentist actually confirmed my osteonecrosis and sent me to an oral surgeon.   http://www.christie.nhs.uk/booklets/438.pdf  Make absolutely sure you tell your dentist and/or oral surgeon you are on this drug!

For the jaw osteonecrosis, I am using just a chlorhexidine rinse twice a day.  So far, about 6 months now, the ulcer is still small but there.  My docs tell me this will take a long time to resolve, but they will restart a bisphosphonate when it does.

I do not like being off of zometa or xgeva because, along with hormone therapy, my ribs really got better.  So far though, I am doing well.  Bones were still without activity on last PET.

Your dose of zometa will be about 1/10 of someone using it for bone mets (such as myself), so you will be far, far less likely to experience my side effects (hopefully) and, if you do, they should be quicker to resolve.

My onc said that many are starting to do a few years on and then a few years off to prevent my jaw issues.  8 years is a long time, but I am not sorry about it.  The jaw stuff is a lot easier and less painful than bone mets.

Good luck!  And I hope this is not TMI!Surprised



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