Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond
Generic Name: Pamidronate
Aredia is a supportive care drug in the category of bisphosphonates. (For more detail,
see "How Aredia Works" section below).
What Aredia Is Used For:
- Aredia is used as a support medication to treat symptoms of cancer such as hypercalcemia
(high blood calcium levels) or to decrease complications (such as fractures or pain)
produced by bone metastasis (spread of cancer to the bone).
Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use
this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.
How Aredia Is Given:
- As an infusion into the vein (intravenous, IV).
- There is no pill form of Aredia.
- The amount of Aredia that you will receive depends on many factors, including, your
general health or other health problems, and the type of cancer or condition being
treated. Your doctor will determine your dose and schedule.
Side Effects of Aredia:
Important things to remember about the side effects of Aredia:
- Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed
- Side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration
- Side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after treatment is complete
- There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects
- There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side effects and the
effectiveness of the medication.
The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients
These side effects are less common side effects (occurring in about <10%) of
patients receiving Aredia:
- Infusion site reaction with redness, pain swelling at IV site
- Bone, muscle or joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood test abnormality: low magnesium level
Note: Aredia may be used to treat a condition called hypercalcemia
(high blood calcium) symptoms of hypercalcemia may include frequent urination, poor
appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, weakness, fatigue, muscle twitching, confusion,
stupor and coma. Presence of these symptoms while a person is receiving treatment
with Aredia may not be drug-related side effects, but related to hypercalcemia.
Osteonecrosis of the jaw has been reported rarely in patients with cancer receiving
treatment regimens including bisphosphonates. Many of the reported cases
were associated with dental procedures such as removal of a tooth. Many had
signs of local infection including infection in the bone. A dental examination
with appropriate preventative dentistry should be considered prior to treatment
with bisphosphonates particularly in patients with additional risk factors (e.g.
cancer, chemotherapy, corticosteroids, poor oral hygiene). Invasive dental
procedures should be avoided during treatment.
Not all side effects are listed above. Some that are rare (occurring in less than
1% of patients) are not listed here. However, you should always inform your
health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.
When To Contact Your Doctor or Health Care Provider:
Seek emergency help immediately and notify your health care provider, it you experience
the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty breathing, closing up of the throat, swelling
of facial features, hives (possible allergic reaction).
Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience
any of the following symptoms:
- Unusual muscle twitching or spasms (symptom of hypercalcemia)
- Confusion (symptom of hypercalcemia)
- Fever of 100.4° F (38° C), chills, sore throat (possible signs of infection)
- Shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency.
Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:
- Vomiting (more than 4-5 episodes within a 24 hour period)
- Nausea that interferes with eating and is not relieved by mediations prescribed
by your doctor.
- Constipation unrelieved by laxative use
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and extreme tiredness (unable to perform self-care activities)
- Feelings of confusion
- Unable to eat or drink for 24 hours or have signs of dehydration: tiredness, thirst,
dry mouth, dark and decrease amount of urine, or dizziness.
Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.
- Before starting Aredia treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other
medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins,
herbal remedies, etc.).
- The use of Aredia may be inadvisable if you have had an allergic reaction to Aredia
or other medications like it (bisphosphonates) in the past.
Osteonecrosis of the jaw has been reported in patients with cancer receiving treatment
regimens including bisphosphonates. Many of the reported cases were associated
with dental procedures such as removal of a tooth. Many had signs of local
infection including infection in the bone. A dental examination with appropriate
preventative dentistry should be considered prior to treatment with bisphosphonates
particularly in patients with additional risk factors (e.g. cancer, chemotherapy,
corticosteroids, poor oral hygiene). Invasive dental procedures should be
avoided during treatment.
Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior
to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category D (Aredia may be hazardous to the
fetus. Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be advised of the potential
hazard to the fetus).
For both men and women: Do not conceive a child (get pregnant) while taking Aredia.
Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, are recommended. Discuss with
your doctor when you may safely become pregnant or conceive a child after therapy.
- Do not breast feed while taking Aredia.
Aredia Self Care Tips:
- It is important that you stay well hydrated during treatment to protect your kidneys.
Drink two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you are instructed otherwise.
- Acetaminophen may help relieve discomfort from fever, headache and/or generalized
aches and pains. However, be sure to talk with your doctor before taking it.
- Aredia causes little nausea. But if you should experience nausea, take anti-nausea
medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small frequent meals. Sucking
on lozenges and chewing gum may also help.
- You may experience drowsiness or dizziness; avoid driving or engaging in tasks that
require alertness until your response to the drug is known.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Maintain good nutrition.
- If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health
care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that
are effective in managing such problems.
Monitoring and Testing While Taking Aredia:
You will be checked regularly by your health care professional while you are taking
Aredia, to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy. Periodic
blood work to monitor your complete blood count (CBC), kidney function (specifically
creatinine and BUN), and blood calcium levels will also be ordered by your doctor.
How Aredia Works:
Cancer cells that spread to the bone can secrete substances that can cause cells
found in the bone called osteoclasts to dissolve or "eat away" a portion of the
bone. These tumors or lesions weaken the bone and can lead to complications.
Some of the complications resulting from this bone breakdown are bone pain, fractures
and less commonly, hypercalcemia (increased levels of calcium in the blood).
Aredia is a bisphosphonate. Bisphosphonate 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.
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.
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