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Actonel Osteonecrosis of the Jaw

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ACTONEL UPDATE 2/23/11 – A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has confirmed that long-term use of bisphosphonates like Actonel increases the risk for atypical (subtrochanteric or femoral shaft) fractures in older women. Patients are advised to weigh risks vs. benefits closely before taking Actonel. Learn More: Bisphosphonates Femur Fractures. Osteonecrosis (pronounced OSS-tee-oh-ne-KRO-sis) of the jaw is an uncommon condition that involves the loss, or breakdown, of the jaw bone. It can be a serious condition. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Pain, swelling, or infection of the gums
  • Loosening of teeth
  • Poor healing of the gums
  • Numbness or the feeling of heaviness in the jaw

If you experience any of these or other dental symptoms, tell both your oncologist and your dentist immediately and follow your oncologist’s recommendations regarding continuation of your cancer treatment. Your oncologist may refer you to an oral surgeon or dental oncologist with experience in osteonecrosis.

To diagnose Osteonecrosis of the Jaw, doctors may use X rays or tests for infection (microbial cultures). Treatments for Osteonecrosis of the Jaw may include antibiotics, oral rinses, and removable mouth appliances. Minor dental work may be necessary to remove injured tissue and reduce sharp edges of the bone. Surgery is typically avoided because it may make the condition worse. There have been over 2,400 Fosamax (same class of drugs as Actonel) patients since 2001 that have reported bone death and jaw bone decay or Osteonecrosis of the Jaw. In addition, more than 120 patients have suffered from such severe pain and debilitation that they have become bedridden or in need of devices like crutches, walkers and wheelchairs.

Signs and Symptoms of Actonel Induced Osteonecrosis of the Jaw

The typical signs and symptoms of osteonecrosis of the jaw may include pain, swelling or infection of the gums, loosening of the teeth, poor healing of the gums, numbness or a feeling of heaviness in the jaw, drainage and exposed bone. Patients with the least serious form of this condition may not show any symptoms, but in the most serious cases, some patients may require the removal of sections of the jaw.

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