Bisphosphonate use has been increasing in recent years. This is a class of medications that is used to solidify bone mass and prevent fractures. They fight osteoporosis, but also prevent many cancers from spreading into skeletal bones (bone metastases). Many patients with metastatic cancers (breast, prostate, renal cell, multiple myeloma, etc.) will require these medications to counteract the devastating consequences of bone metastases.
Bisphosphonates were described as early as the 19th century, and were approved by the FDA in the 1990s for human use. Fosamax was the first FDA approved bisphosphonate in the USA. The medications come in an oral (pill) form and an IV version. Other commonly prescribed bisphosphonates include:
- Zometa (Zolendronate)
- Actonel (Risedronate)
- Boniva (Ibandronate)
- Aredia (Pamidronate)
An uncommon but significant potential side effect of bisphosphonates is the development of Bisphosphonate-associated Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (BONJ). This is primarily associated with...