Advances in Supportive Care of Patients With Cancer and Bone Metastases: Nursing Implications of Zoledronic Acid
The knowledge and training of nursing staff is essential for the safety and comfort of patients receiving IV therapies. The use of IV bisphosphonates as an adjunct to standard antineoplastic therapies in patients with advanced cancer is becoming widespread. Zoledronic acid and pamidronate (Zometa® and Aredia®, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ) are nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates. Pamidronate has been the standard of care for patients with osteolytic bone lesions from breast cancer or multiple myeloma. However, zoledronic acid, which has demonstrated increased potency and a broad clinical utility, is emerging as the new standard of care. In addition to treating hypercalcemia of malignancy, zoledronic acid is approved for treating patients with bone metastases (osteolytic or osteoblastic) from a wide range of solid tumors, including breast, prostate, and lung cancers, or osteolytic bone lesions from multiple myeloma. Zoledronic acid (4 mg via a 15-minute infusion) has a safety profile comparable with pamidronate (90 mg via a two-hour infusion) and has demonstrated comparable or superior efficacy to that of pamidronate in every patient population tested. The shorter infusion time of zoledronic acid compared with that of pamidronate may provide added convenience, but safety guidelines should be followed for all IV bisphosphonate therapies. These guidelines and nursing care of patients receiving IV bisphosphonates are reviewed.