Denosumab is approved by the FDA for the treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women at high risk of fracture and to increase bone mass in men with osteoporosis at high risk of fracture. The medicine is also approved to increase bone mass in men receiving androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer who are at high risk of fracture and to increase bone mass in women at high risk for fracture receiving aromatase inhibitor therapy for breast cancer.

Denosumab is a RANK ligand (RANKL) inhibitor/human monoclonal antibody. A healthcare professional gives denosumab by injection every six months. Denosumab increases bone density and reduces the incidence of spine and non-spine fractures, including hip fractures.

Side Effects

Denosumab may lower the calcium levels in the blood. If blood calcium levels are low before receiving denosumab, the low calcium level must be corrected before giving the medicine or it will get worse. Patients need to have a blood test after each dose to confirm that blood calcium level is not abnormally low. Signs of low calcium levels include spasms, twitches or cramps in the muscles; or numbness and tingling in the fingers, toes or around the mouth. If any of these symptoms are seen while on this medicine, patients should contact their healthcare provider. Most patients with low calcium levels, however, do not show these signs.

People who have weak immune systems or take other medicines that affect the immune system may have an increased chance of having serious infections with denosumab. Even patients who have no immune system problems may be at higher risk of certain infections such as those of the skin. Patients should contact their healthcare provider right away if signs of infection occur. These signs may include fever, chills, red and swollen skin, skin that is hot or sore to the touch, severe pains in the abdomen, or pain or burning when passing urine or passing urine more frequently and in small amounts.

Denosumab may also cause skin rashes. Call your healthcare provider if you notice any abnormal skin-related symptoms. Any groin or thigh discomfort or pain should be reported to your healthcare provider as well as any unhealed dental lesions. Patients should practice good dental care during treatment and should have an examination of the mouth by a doctor or dentist before starting the medicine.

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