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Cancer Treatment Centers of America



Brand Names: Prolia®, Xgeva®

Denosumab is used in the treatment of prostate cancer and breast cancer, and in the treatment of bone metastases from solid tumors. Outside of cancer, this drug is used to treat postmenopausal women with osteoporosis at high risk of fracture.

Denosumab is a monoclonal antibody. Specifically, this drug works by binding to a protein called RANKL, which is involved in the growth and survival of osteoclasts, cells that disintegrate bone, a process known as bone resorption. By binding to RANKL, denosumab stops osteoclasts from forming. In prostate and breast cancer, denosumab may delay bone metastases. For solid tumors that have metastasized to the bone, denosumab may help prevent fractures.

This medication is given as an injection given under the skin (subcutaneously) in the upper arm, upper thigh, or stomach. When this drug is being used to prevent fractures in bones to which cancer has spread, it is usually given once every 4 weeks. Calcium and vitamin D supplements are usually recommended for patients taking denosumab.

Denosumab side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between denosumab and other drugs, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and what other medications and supplements you are currently taking. You should also inform your doctor if you have or ever had hypocalcemia, anemia, any type of infection, thyroid surgery or disease, stomach problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, liver tumor, liver disease, or kidney disease, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding.

Denosumab is known to cause jaw problems. Be sure to talk with your doctor before having any dental treatments while taking denosumab. Maintaining good oral hygiene is also important during treatment with denosumab.

Possible side effects of denosumab may include:

  • Red, dry, or itchy skin
  • Rash
  • Oozing or crusty blisters on skin
  • Pain in the arms, legs, back, or muscle

Some of denosumab’s side effects can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Muscle stiffness or spasms
  • Tingling in the finger, toes, or around the mouth
  • Fever or chills
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Ear drainage or severe pain
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate, burning feeling during urination
  • Pain, numbness, swelling, or drainage from mouth, teeth, or jaw
  • Ongoing pain beginning in stomach and possibly spreading to back
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fast heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Patients may experience additional effects not mentioned above.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), your team of cancer experts will explain each of the side effects of denosumab with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Denosumab for cancer treatment

Denosumab is approved by the FDA for the following:

  • To increase bone mass in patients at high risk for fracture, including those receiving androgen deprivation therapy for nonmetastatic prostate cancer or adjuvant aromatase inhibitor therapy for breast cancer
  • To prevent skeletal-related events in patients with bone metastases from solid tumors
  • Treatment of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis at high risk for fracture

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our integrative approach to cancer treatment works to fight your disease on all fronts and ensures that you remain at the center of everything we do. We encourage participation from both you and your family to make certain you are comfortable with all decisions made regarding your treatment.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Cancer Treatment Centers of America assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill. Also note that while Cancer Treatment Centers of America frequently updates its contents, medical information changes rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date.