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What Is Denosumab Used For?

If you have cancer that has spread to the bones, your healthcare provider may recommend taking denosumab to prevent complications. This medicine is also used for treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women who have a high risk for fractures and for people who have been unsuccessful with other osteoporosis treatments. Off-label reasons to use denosumab include treating or preventing bone problems caused by certain cancer treatments.

An Overview of Uses for Denosumab

Denosumab (Prolia®, Xgeva®) is a prescription medication marketed as two different medications used for two different uses. Prolia is the version approved for the treatment of osteoporosis. It is given by injection twice a year. Specifically, it is approved for use in the following groups of people:
  • Postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and who have a high risk for fractures
  • People who have tried other osteoporosis medications without success (or are intolerant of such medications).
Xgeva is the version approved to help prevent complications from cancer that has spread to the bones. It is given as an injection once a month.

Denosumab for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, which means "porous bone," is a disease characterized by low bone mass (bone thinning) that leads to fragile bones and an increased risk of fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. Men as well as women are affected by this condition. Fortunately, osteoporosis is a disease that can be prevented and treated.
Common causes of osteoporosis include:
  • Age-related bone loss
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Long-term corticosteroid use
  • Certain diseases.
Race and ethnicity may play a role in developing osteoporosis as well, but more research is needed to determine the connection.
Often, osteoporosis treatment is not started until a bone is broken, as there are usually no symptoms of osteoporosis. However, treatment may be started earlier if the disease is detected using a test (see Diagnosing Osteoporosis).
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Denosumab Drug Information

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