Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond

Aredia - Use and Side Effects Information

QUESTION:  My mother has breast cancer that has spread to her bones.  She goes for treatment and gets a medication called Aredia.  What is the medication Aredia used for?  What are Aredia's side effects?

ANSWER:   What happens with some types of cancer is that cells break away from the original tumor, travel through the bloodstream, and begin to grow somewhere else in the body. This process is called metastasis. In certain cancers such as breast, multiple myeloma, kidney or prostate cancers, the bone is a common site for metastasis. The bone metastases secrete substances that can cause cells called osteoclasts to dissolve or "eat away" a portion of the bone.  These lesions weaken the bone and can lead to complications.  Some of the complications are bone pain, fractures, and less commonly, calcium levels in the blood can become dangerously high (hypercalcemia) as a result of the bone breakdown.

Aredia is one medication that fits into the class of medications called biphosphonates.  Biphosphonate medications are used to slow down the osteoclast's effects on the bone. In doing this it can be useful in slowing down or preventing the complications (bone pain, fractures, or high calcium levels) of the bone breakdown.

Biphosphonates may be given while a person is receiving other chemotherapy to treat cancer, or it may be given alone to treat high calcium levels, or bone pain.

Aredia Side Effects:

Some of the more common side effects that have been reported in studies of patients taking Aredia were; fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, anemia and skeletal pain.  However it is thought that some of these reported side effects of Aredia may be due to other treatments patients were on or the cancer itself. Sometimes patients reported muscle and joint pains within 1 to 3 days after the second or third treatment of Aredia.  The doctor may recommend a mild pain reliever that may help prevent or relieve these symptoms. Aredia is cleared from the body through the kidneys. Even if a person's kidneys are not working properly, studies show that changes in the dosage of Aredia should not be necessary. However, Aredia has not been studied in many patients with severe kidney problems.

Note:  We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice. is designed to provide the latest information about chemotherapy to patients and their families, caregivers and friends. For information about the 4th Angel Mentoring Program visit