(BPT) - This article is sponsored advertising content from Amgen, Inc.
Throughout November men everywhere were challenged to grow a moustache to raise awareness of men’s health issues in an annual campaign known as “Movember.” One of the health issues spotlighted during Movember was prostate cancer, which is the second most common cancer in men in the U.S., with around one in seven men receiving a diagnosis in their lifetime. Even though the month has passed and moustaches have been shaved, it is important to continue to spread awareness of health issues like prostate cancer, as well as the complications associated with the disease.
A prostate cancer diagnosis can cause a major upheaval in a patient’s life, and there are many aspects patients need to consider when it comes to managing their health. One important area that sometimes gets overlooked is the effect prostate cancer can have on the bones. If prostate cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it nearly always goes to the bones first, causing bone metastases.
Mark, a prostate cancer patient from Tennessee, was no exception.
“When I was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, I was told the cancer had already spread to my bones,” Mark recalled. “My doctor told me I had significant bone metastases throughout my body. It was a total surprise.”
If prostate cancer has spread to the bone, understanding the problems they can cause is very important. Prostate cancer that has spread to the bone can cause the bones to weaken, leading to fractures, as well as three other types of serious bone problems: a need for surgery to prevent or repair broken bones, a need for radiation treatments to the bone and pressure on the spinal cord (spinal cord compression). Additionally, once a patient experiences a serious bone problem, the likelihood of experiencing a second is greater. Fortunately, there are bone targeting medicines that can help prevent serious bone problems in prostate cancer patients who have bone metastases.
XGEVA® (denosumab), a prescription medicine given as a shot once every four weeks in your doctor’s office, is used to prevent pathologic fracture, spinal cord compression, or the need for radiation or surgery to bone in patients with bone metastases from solid tumors. XGEVA® is not used to prevent these bone problems in patients with multiple myeloma.
XGEVA® should not be used by women who are pregnant because it could harm the unborn baby. XGEVA® should not be used by people with low blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia). XGEVA® can cause low blood calcium levels, which in some cases could be life threatening. Your doctor should check your blood calcium levels before you start and while on XGEVA®. Take calcium and vitamin D supplements as directed by your doctor while you are on XGEVA®. Please see the additional Important Safety Information at the end of this article to learn about risks to consider when talking to your doctor about starting XGEVA®.
XGEVA® is the number one prescribed bone targeting medicine by oncologists to prevent serious bone problems in patients with bone mets from solid tumors. In a study of 1,901 patients with bone mets from prostate cancer, XGEVA delayed having a serious bone problem longer than another bone targeting agent called zoledronic acid (median of 20.7 months vs 17.1 months respectively). The same study showed XGEVA reduced the risk of having a serious bone problem 18% more than zoledronic acid.
“I was not aware that prostate cancer could affect my bones,” Mark said. “Since my diagnosis I have learned a lot about my cancer from talking to my doctors and doing research on my own, and I would definitely encourage other patients to do the same.”
For more information about how XGEVA® can prevent serious bone problems in patients with prostate cancer, and for support tools such as a list of questions for your doctor, visit http://www.xgeva.com/.
Important Safety Information
Do not take XGEVA® if you have low blood calcium (hypocalcemia). Your low blood calcium must be treated before you receive XGEVA®. XGEVA® can significantly lower the calcium levels in your blood and some deaths have been reported. Take calcium and vitamin D as your doctor tells you to. Tell your doctor right away if you experience spasms, twitches, cramps, or stiffness in your muscles or numbness or tingling in your fingers, toes, or around your mouth.
Do not take XGEVA® if you are allergic to denosumab or any of the ingredients of XGEVA®. Serious allergic reactions have happened in people who take XGEVA®. Call your doctor or go to your nearest emergency room right away if you have any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including low blood pressure (hypotension); trouble breathing; throat tightness; swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, rash; itching; or hives.
What is important information you should know about XGEVA®?
XGEVA® contains the same medicine as Prolia® (denosumab). If you are taking XGEVA® do not take Prolia®.
Severe jaw bone problems (osteonecrosis)
- Severe jaw bone problems may happen when you take XGEVA®. Your doctor should examine your mouth before you start, and while you are taking XGEVA®. Tell your dentist that you are taking XGEVA®. It is important for you to practice good mouth care during treatment with XGEVA®. In studies of patients with bone metastases, the rate of severe jaw problems was higher the longer they were being treated with XGEVA®.
Unusual thigh bone fracture
- Unusual thigh bone fracture has been reported. Symptoms of a fracture include new or unusual pain in your hip, groin, or thigh.
Risk of high calcium levels in patients who are still growing
- Patients with bones that are not fully matured are at a greater risk to develop high blood calcium levels after they stop taking XGEVA®, that can be serious.
Possible harm to your unborn baby
- You should not become pregnant while taking XGEVA®. Tell your doctor right away if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or suspect you are pregnant. XGEVA® can harm your unborn baby. Women of child bearing age should use highly effective contraception while taking XGEVA® and for at least 5 months after the last dose of XGEVA®.
Tell your doctor if you:
- Are taking a medicine called Prolia® (denosumab) because it contains the same medicine as XGEVA®
- Have symptoms of low blood calcium such as muscle stiffness or cramps
- Have symptoms of severe jaw bone problems such as pain or numbness
- Have ongoing pain or slow healing after dental surgery
- Have symptoms of high blood calcium such as nausea, vomiting, headache, and decreased alertness
- Are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, suspect you are pregnant, or breastfeeding
While taking XGEVA®, you should:
- Take good care of your teeth and gums and visit a dentist as recommended
- Tell your dentist that you are taking XGEVA®
- Tell your doctor if you plan to have dental surgery or teeth removed
- Women of child bearing age should use highly effective contraception while taking XGEVA® and for at least 5 months after the last dose of XGEVA®
What are the possible side effects of XGEVA®?
- The most common side effects in patients receiving XGEVA® for the prevention of serious bone problems were tiredness/weakness, low phosphate levels in your blood, and nausea. The most common serious side effect of XGEVA® was shortness of breath.
These are not all the possible side effects of XGEVA®. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.