“Osteonecrosis of the jaw is not a common condition. It appears to occur in one percent to ten percent of patients with advanced cancer who are on intravenous bisphosphonate therapy – a number significant enough that most medical oncologists will see patients with this condition. It is important that researchers learn why it occurs and how best to prevent or treat it,” says Catherine Van Poznak, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Previous studies have noted anywhere from 0.6 percent to ten percent of patients with cancer on bisphosphonates developed osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). Reporting is currently voluntary. The problem, Van Poznak says, is that the condition itself is poorly defined and no universal reporting mechanism exists.

Van Poznak has authored two recent reviews of osteonecrosis of the jaw. Both papers synthesise the present data for an overview of what is known to date about this recently identified complication. “Some patients have resolution of the lesion but in other patients, it may remain stable or even progress,” Van Poznak adds.

Patients with osteoporosis also take bisphosphonates, although their treatment is typically prescribed as a pill, rather than intravenously. Some cases of ONJ have been reported in patients with osteoporosis who are taking oral bisphosphonates, but the risk of ONJ to such patients appears to be very low.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan