Drug Offers Cancer Patients a Normal Life

Gleevec gives CML patients healthy normal lifespan

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) For some patients, living with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) isn't terribly difficult; it just means taking a single pill once a day and living normal life.

A new study found that patients taking Gleevec (imatinib) for CML, who are in remission for at least two years, can expect to live a normal lifespan much like the general population who doesn't have CML.

"CML patients taking Gleevec and in remission for 2+ years may have a normal life expectancy."

Gleevec has become the first-line treatment for CML and is now known to produce total and long-lasting treatment responses in some patients.

To study the effect of this medication, researchers evaluated the records of 832 patients who were in remission after taking Gleevec for two years. Data was collected from 27 centers around the world.

During the follow-up period, just under five percent (4.8) of patients died, which is a mortality rate expected of the general population. Of this number, there were only six deaths related to CML.

The medication does cause side effects that can have an impact on quality of life, according to the researchers. As a result, some participants switched to other targeted therapies.

In an editorial accompanying the study report published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, B. Douglas Smith, M.D., of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says that the next level of research should "work to turn good and great responses into cures.”

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Review Date: 
September 4, 2011
Last Updated:
November 8, 2012