Tumour-induced hypercalcemia (TIH) and pain from bone metastases are common complications of advanced malignancy and have a significant negative impact on quality of life. Many cancer patients in the advanced stages of their palliative illness prefer to avoid hospitalization and to receive their care in the community setting. This small open-label prospective pilot study explored the feasibility of administering zoledronic acid intravenously in the community setting (home and residential hospices). It enrolled a convenience sample of 12 patients with advanced cancer and TIH (n = 7), malignant bone pain (n = 3), or TIH and malignant bone pain (n = 2). The mean duration of infusion was 15 minutes (range: 14-30 minutes). The total nursing time required was 95 minutes, and the mean total cost, including nursing time, travel time, and drug costs was $708.97 per infusion. This cost was compared with costs for clodronate and pamidronate ($402.52 and $406.12 respectively). Calcium fell from a mean of 2.97 mmol/L on day 0 to 2.63 mmol/L on day 4 and to 2.54 mmol/L on day 10. Delirium resolved in 2 of 5 patients with TIH-associated delirium. Intravenous zoledronic acid administered in the community to palliative patients at the end of life is feasible and safe, and the short duration of infusion offers advantages to patients and nursing resources alike. The higher cost of zoledronic acid per infusion may be offset by the advantage of its short infusion time.
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