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Zometa 269

Zoledronic acid (Zometa) fact sheet


This leaflet provides information about a course of treatment called zoledronic acid. It is commonly known as Zometa. The leaflet will explain what this is and when and how it will be given. It will also tell you about any common side effects you may experience. Contact telephone numbers are at the end of this leaflet.



What is Zometa?

Zometa is a drug that helps strengthen and repair bone damage caused by some cancers. It is not a chemotherapy drug. It is one of a group of drugs called bisphosphonates. It is given in a drip.



Why am I given Zometa?

Your doctor has prescribed Zometa as it is effective in treating patients with cancer that has spread to the bones.


It is most commonly used to:

  • Relieves pain in the bones
  • Prevent cuts
  • Reduce calcium levels in the blood


Occasionally, it is used to treat osteoporosis (thinning and weakness of the bones). Zometa will be given instead of any tablets.



How is Zometa given?

Zometa is given by a drip into a vein in the back of your hand or arm. Alternatively, we may suggest that a small tube called a PICC is placed in a large vein in your upper arm. It will stay in place throughout your treatment. Your doctor or nurse will discuss this with you. We have a leaflet that gives you more information about PICC lines.



Where will my treatment be given?

Zometa can be given in Felindre, in a local hospital, or in the local chemotherapy unit. We will discuss this with you.



How long will my appointment take?

Zometa treatment will take approximately half an hour.

If you must have blood tests on the same day as the procedure, you should allow 2 to 3 hours.


You are welcome to bring someone to stay with you during your treatment. There is limited space in the waiting and treatment areas, so there is usually no room for more than one person. Treatment areas are not suitable for young children.




How often will I have treatment?

It is usual to have a Zometa treatment once every 3 or 4 weeks. Your doctor will discuss this with you.



What are the possible side effects?

This treatment is usually well tolerated, but there are some side effects that you need to be aware of. The doctors, nurses and pharmacists can give you advice or answer any questions you may have.


Flu-like symptoms

Zometa can cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, weakness, sleepiness, headache, numbness and pain in your muscles, joints and bones. In most cases, you don't need any specific treatment, and the symptoms should improve after a few days. However, taking paracetamol can be helpful.


Nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite

The severity of this varies from person to person, but most people do not experience nausea and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, tell your doctor or nurse. They can give you anti-nausea medicine to take home.


Skin reactions

Skin reaction is not very common. However, sometimes the skin around the infusion site may be red and swollen. Some people may develop a rash and itching. If this happens, tell your doctor or nurse.





If you develop red, sore, itchy eyes, talk to your doctor.


Changes in kidney function

You will have a blood test every time you get an infusion of Zometa. The purpose of this test is to ensure that your blood cell count is normal and we will also check your kidney function. Calcium and phosphate levels in your blood can become low. Your doctor will monitor this and can offer you treatment if this happens.



Uncommon side effects

Osteonecrosis of the jaw

Very occasionally, an uncommon side effect can occur with Zometa, when the jawbone breaks down. It's called osteonecrosis of the jaw, and it can be a serious condition. Here are some of the symptoms:


  • pain, swelling or infection in the gums
  • teeth loosening
  • the gums do not heal
  • numbness or heaviness in the jaw


If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above or any other dental problems, tell your doctor or specialist nurse.


We recommend that you visit your dentist to ensure that any urgent dental work is completed before you start Zometa. You should always tell your dentist that you are being treated with a bisphosphonate.


Dental health

Always try to keep your mouth clean and healthy. You can still see your dentist for your normal, regular check-ups and teeth cleaning (but not treatment). You can also see your dental hygienist. Show them this leaflet, as it is important that the dentist and dental hygienist know that you are taking Zometa.



Is it ok to take other medicines?

If you are taking other medicines, tell your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.























Contact telephone numbers


Felindre Cancer Center 029 2061 5888

For urgent advice at any time of the day or night, ask for the chemotherapy pager



Pharmaceutical department 029 2061 5888 ext. 6223

Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm for inquiries about your medicines



Cancer helpline

Tenovus freephone 0808 808 1010

7 days a week, 8am – 8pm, for general cancer enquiries



















This leaflet has been written by health professionals. The information in this leaflet is based on evidence. The leaflet was endorsed by doctors, nurses and patients. It is reviewed and updated annually.




















Prepared March 2013 plain-english (3)