Injecting the cancer medicine denosumab yourself
This guide gives you useful instructions and information about injecting the cancer medicine denosumab yourself. It covers:
- how the medicine works
- general safety tips for using denosumab
- collecting, storing and handling denosumab
- preparing and giving yourself denosumab injections
The aim of this guide is to help you give yourself the medicine at home. It is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or nurse.
A nurse has already shown you how to give yourself an injection under the skin (a subcutaneous injection). You and the nurse have agreed that:
- you can inject the medicine yourself
- you feel comfortable doing this
You have a phone appointment with a nurse on the day that you first need to inject denosumab. They check that you have successfully given yourself the injection.
If you have any questions not covered in this guide or are not sure how to inject denosumab, please contact your hospital team. They can support and help you.
About the medicine denosumab
Denosumab, which has the brand names XGEVA® and Prolia®, is used to:
- treat cancer that has spread to the bones (secondary bone cancer)
- help strengthen the bones with some types of cancer
The medicine eases bone pain and reduces the chance of getting a broken bone (fracture).
How the medicine works
Denosumab is a type of targeted therapy. Targeted therapies are medicines that find and attack cancer cells.
Denosumab works by blocking the signals to cells that break down bone. In this way, it reduces the risk of bone problems.
Side effects of denosumab
Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist explains the common side effects of denosumab treatment.
Contact us immediately if:
- your temperature is very high, or you feel hot, shivery or shaky
- you suddenly feel unwell, even if your temperature is normal
- you have a sore throat, cough or diarrhoea, or need to pee a lot
You can call our acute oncology service on 020 7188 3754 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
If you get side effects or have any concerns that are not addressed in this guide, please contact your hospital.
Tips for using denosumab safely
Here is a list of general tips for how to use denosumab safely.
- take it in turns to inject into the left and right sides of your tummy (abdomen) or outer left and right thigh
- choose a different area of skin for each injection
- put your used syringe and needle in the yellow sharps bin with a purple lid each time that you inject and never leave them lying around
- give yourself the injection at about the same time each morning when you are due to have a dose
- contact the chemotherapy day unit if you are not sure how to inject or would like more information
- store your medicine appropriately in the fridge and out of the reach of children and pets
- do not put the syringe down anywhere or touch the needle with anything before injecting
- do not inject into bruised, scarred or damaged skin
- do not rub the skin after you have injected
- do not share or let anyone else use your syringes or medicines
- do not throw away any equipment or medicines in your general household waste
- do not overfill the sharps bin. The lid must be closed when the bin is full. You or your carer must return the bin to the hospital at your next visit, or contact your local council to arrange collection