Xgeva is licensed to prevent certain complications that may occur when cancer has spread to the bone. This prescription medication works by slowing down formation of certain cells that can break down the bone. There are also some off-label uses for Xgeva, such as treating or preventing osteoporosis or other types of bone cancer.
What Is Xgeva Used For?Xgeva® (denosumab) is a prescription medication approved to help prevent complications from cancer that has spread to the bones. It is given as an injection just under the skin (a subcutaneous injection) once a month.
Cancer and the BonesCancer can affect the bones. Cancer from other parts of the body can spread to the bones, or cancer can start in the bones (such as with multiple myeloma). Either way, cancer can wear away the bone, leading to pain, broken bones, and the need for bone surgery or radiation. If the spinal bones are affected, this can lead to pressure on the spine, causing pain, unusual sensations, loss of bowel or bladder control, or even paralysis.
Xgeva is approved to help prevent bone damage (and complications due to that damage) due to solid tumor cancers (such as breast, prostate, or lung cancer, among many others) that have spread to the bone. These are known as cancers with bone metastases. The complications that result are known as skeletal-related events and may include:
- Broken bones (fractures)
- Surgery to repair broken bones
- Radiation to relieve bone pain
- Pressure on the spinal cord (spinal cord compression).
Unlike some other medications, Xgeva is not approved to prevent or delay bone damage due to multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects plasma cells in the bone marrow.
How Does It Work?Xgeva is a manufactured antibody that is designed specifically to bind to a protein known as receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL). Xgeva prevents RANKL from activating the RANK receptor on the surface of osteoclast cells (as well as immature cells that will eventually become osteoclast cells). Osteoclasts are bone cells that are responsible for the breakdown of bone. These bone cells are more active in people with cancer that has spread to the bones.
Xgeva slows down the formation, activity, and survival of osteoclast cells, thus decreasing bone breakdown.