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Intern Med J. 2009 May;39(5):304-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2008.01824.x. Epub 2008 Nov 3.

Osteonecrosis of the jaw complicating bisphosphonate treatment for bone disease in multiple myeloma: an overview with recommendations for prevention and treatment.

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  • 1Division of Haematology and Medical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria.


Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ) is a recently recognised and potentially highly morbid complication of bisphosphonate therapy in the setting of metastatic malignancy, including myeloma. Members of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Group of the Myeloma Foundation of Australia formulated guidelines for the management of bisphosphonates around the issue of ONJ, based on the best available evidence in June 2008. Prior to commencement of therapy, patients should have an oral health assessment and be educated about the risks of ONJ. Dental assessment should occur 6 monthly during therapy. If tooth extraction is required, sufficient time should be allowed for complete healing to occur prior to commencement of bisphosphonate. As the risk of ONJ increases with duration of bisphosphonate therapy, we recommend annual assessment of dose with modification to 3 monthly i.v. therapy or to oral therapy with clodronate for those with all but the highest risk of skeletal-related event. Established ONJ should be managed conservatively; a bisphosphonate "drug holiday" is usually indicated and invasive surgery should generally be avoided. These recommendations will assist with clinical decision making for myeloma patients who are at risk of bisphosphonate-associated ONJ.

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