Denosumab for secondary bone cancer

Denosumab may be used to lower the risk of fractures caused by secondary bone cancers. It is also known as Xgeva® or Prolia®. It belongs to a group of cancer drugs called monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are sometimes called targeted therapies because they work by ‘targeting’ specific proteins on the surface of cells. Denosumab controls the activity of osteoclasts and reduces bone breakdown.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved Xgeva use for the treatment of bone secondaries from breast cancer and other solid tumours except prostate cancer. It’s given as an injection just under the skin (subcutaneously) every four weeks.

Side effects of Denosumab

Denosumab generally has few side effects. Side effects you may have include:

  • low levels of calcium in the blood – your doctor will probably advise you to take calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent a low calcium level and to strengthen your bones
  • jaw problems (osteonecrosis)
  • pains in the muscles and joints
  • feeling short of breath
  • diarrhoea
  • excessive sweating.

Your doctor can tell you more about denosumab if it’s a suitable treatment for you.