IV Bisphoshates -any one experienced GI symptoms?

Hi ladies , I

I have been experiencing GI symptoms since starting Bisphosphanates -initially Zometa, started June 07 stopped Oct 07 due to GI symptoms. Onc not convinced symptoms were related and scanned me inside out!! Thankfully NED .Recommenced Zometa in Jan and lo and behold Gi symptoms started the following month. Had a break until May when started Pamidronate. Fine until Oct when GI symptoms started again,occur every 12 days and last for a day. Have not taken Pamidronate since then-bloods etc fine ,no bone pain and in between ‘bouts’ I am perfectly well. Due to see Onc mid Jan and I know she will not relate the symptoms to the bisphosphanates, advise symptomatic relief and will wish to restart them. However as I am sure you will appreciate sitting on the toilet with your head in a bowl is not the most pleasant of symptoms!! Has any-one experienced similiar symptoms or is it just me!!, Maybe I am just being a moan
ps -sorry if the post is too long

I just had flu like symptoms the first time but have been fine after further treatments.

I had nausea vomiting after my late November dose of Pamidronate, so I postponed my next session til after Xmas and had infusion yesterday. I have felt OK this time, and had no specific trouble on previous treatments so I have been thinking it was a one off - or due to something else.


Hi ot2walk

Sorry to see that you’ve had such a difficult time with IV bisphosphonates – I wonder if your onc might prescribe Bondronat (ibandronic acid) tablets instead? I’ve been taking them since my bone (& liver) met dx over five years ago – they quickly reduced my bone pain (I have mets in pelvis, sacrum, hips, spine, ribs & skull) and I’ve had no side effects at all with them.

Good luck!!

Marilyn x

Many thanks for your replies. I asked re-oral treatment last year but because of GI symptoms ONC decided against this. I must admit I am now starting to feel better and now having longer between ‘bouts’. I wosnder if I could maybe have the treatment every 2-3 month- my mets were in my HIP -no where else and I have had no pain. Any- suggestions?

Once again thank you for taking the time to reply and I hope you are all feeling well

Hi…not sure if it helps all but I found any side effects got better if I drank lots of water on infusion days…also if you are on any calcium tablets it’s best to leave at least a 4 hour gap between infusion and tablet(s). I had pamidronate for a couple of years and then moved onto the oral treatment, Ibandronate…it’s been ok. Take Care.


I’ve had 4 lots of Zometa for early bone mets and osteoporosisc- had flu like symptoms after 1st one but not since. Drank water during drip. What I am finding is that the next day I get bad heartburn/acid reflux and end up coughing to shift it. This then subsides and 2 weeks later it starts again and then once more just before next infusion. Much more sensitive to some foods but not narrowed down enough to exactly which ones. Was put on the Zometa as the chemo gave me mild heartburn and onc said tablets were more likely to make it worse so we’re on the iv as long as it works and my crap veins can stand it.

Anyone any ideas about the heartburn/acid reflux/gullet irritation ??? Will ask chemo nurses next time I go as they’re always helpful and full of good ideas !!

Liz x

Hi Lix, that’s interesting about your heartburn. I have noticed that I get terrible heartburn (so bad I can’t sleep and I couldn’t even take a sip of champagne on New Year’s Eve) and I was worried about my liver. But now I wonder whether it is the Zometa, because it does come and go.

I find Lanzoprazole tends to do the trick. The only problem is that you need to take it in the morning for maximum effect and of course my heartburn seems to come on in the evening.

I guess I ought to think about keeping an indigestion diary to see whether there is a pattern.


Hi Deirdre,

I chew slippery elm tablets from health food shop when I have an attack as it’s deffo worse with certain foods (I don’t drink, never have done, or smoke) and they do help a lot. Can’t work out whether it’s sugar, citrus or fat or a bit of all of them - had 1 bit of grapefruit as a starter over Xmas and half of a small segment was horrendous. So much for healthy eating !

Will report back in 2 weeks after talking to nurses assuming I remember to ask with chemo brain still causing havoc…



In The Daily Mail there was an article (Friday Jan 2nd) which linked bisphosphonates with oesophagus cancer (US FDA Stats 23 out of 10,000’s) and Fosamax (alendronate) with jawbone damage if dental work done while on it. They love to give out a good scare story in the new year don’t they!!!



I saw that article while I was waiting to see the surgeon to discuss my medical report to go back to my employers - superb timing !! Fortunately I knew about the jawbone damage and regarded the other cancer bit as very small numbers…And I thought it’s not my drug anyway !!! And I’ve far more chance of the cancer spreading by not having it.

Nothing like a " let’s panic loads of women who’ve got enough on their plates already" story crossed my mind…


Hi…I’ve been on bisphosphonates since early 2004…it’s now thought most of the bisphosphonates can cause osteonecrosis of the jaw…not just the ones mentioned in the Daily Mail…I know a few people who have ONJ…(we are living longer with bc so are on bisphosphonates for longer periods which is why there are now more cases of ONJ coming to light) I feel I have very little choice (with bone mets) but to stay with the treatment…especially to hopefully guard against spinal cord compression. Bisphosphonates are still really good treatments for those of us with bone mets. Any invasive dental treatment should only be undertaken with a break from bisphosphonates both before and then after treatment. Thankfully most UK dentists are now aware of the ONJ and bisphosphonates connection…this wasn’t the case a couple of years ago.