Multiple Myeloma Overview

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Treating Multiple Myeloma TOPICS

Bisphosphonates for multiple myeloma

Myeloma cells can weaken, dissolve and even cause bones to break. This can lead to bone weakness and broken bones. Drugs called bisphosphonates can help bones stay strong by slowing down this process. The bisphosphonates most often used for myeloma are zoledronic acid (Zometa®) and pamidromate (Aredia®). These are given into a vein (IV), most often once a month.

Bisphosphonate treatment does have a rare but serious side effect. Some patients complain of pain in the jaw and doctors find that part of the bone of the upper or lower jaw bone has died. This can lead to loss of teeth in that area. Infections of the jaw bone may also develop. Doctors aren’t sure why this happens or how best to prevent it. But having jaw surgery or having a tooth removed can trigger this problem. These should not be done during treatment. One way to avoid these dental procedures is to take good care of your mouth by flossing, brushing, making sure that dentures fit right, and having regular dental check-ups. Many doctors suggest that patients have a dental check-up and have any tooth or jaw problems treated before they start bisphosphonate treatment.

Last Medical Review: 02/01/2013
Last Revised: 02/13/2013