Generic Name(s): imatinib
Drug Class: Kinase Inhibitors
Treats: Leukemia, Myelodysplastic Syndromes, Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Gleevec is a drug that interferes with cancer cell growth and is used for the treatment of certain types of leukemia, skin cancer, bone marrow disorders, and some tumors. Gleevec is part of the kinase inhibitors drug class. It may be used in combination with other medications depending on the medical condition it is treating. Gleevec selectively targets cancer cells, rendering it safer to administer compared to other chemotherapeutic drugs.
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Gleevec was once considered a magic bullet' by medicine as it was the first chemotherapeutic drug that could selectively target cancer cells. Many other cancer drugs target healthy as well as cancerous cells, resulting in debilitating side-effects. Gleevec can thus be used confidently by physicians in the treatment of various types of leukemia including chronic myelogenous leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumours. Research is ongoing as to whether Gleevec could be used to treat other forms of leukemia. Gleevec may also be used for purposes not mentioned in this guide, at the discretion of the prescriber.
- Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
- Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour
- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
- Systemic Mastocytosis
The following doses with respect to Gleevec are not fixed. Each dose is dependent upon a number of factors, not least whether the patient has any additional complicating factors such as age, co-administration of interacting drugs, or the presence of additional disease. With this in mind, the following doses should be considered typical all else being equal.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
- Adult Dose: 400 mg to be taken once daily, may rise to 600 mg if disease progresses.
Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour
- Adult Dose: 400 mg to be taken once daily, rising to a maximum dose of 800mg if required.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
- Adult Dose: 600 mg to be taken once daily.
- Adult Dose: 400 mg to be taken once daily.
Gleevec Side Effects
Gleevec, like any other drug, may produce side effects in certain individuals. If you experience any severe side effects, consult with your doctor or medical professional immediately. Almost all individuals taking Gleevec experience side effects of some kind. You should always discuss concerns and side effects with your doctor right away.
Common Gleevec Side Effects:
- Fluid retention
- Muscle pain, bone pain
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal bleeding
Consult with your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following side effects:
- Coughing up blood
- Blue lips, fingernails
- Bloody urine or stool
- Bloody eye
- Bloody nose
- Swelling or bloating hands, feet, legs, face
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Sudden weight gain
- Slurred speech
- Painful urination
- Tightness in the chest
- Abnormal sweating
- Sudden weakness in one side of the body
Even though Gleevec is a chemotherapy agent, the side-effect profile is considerably more tolerable than other anti-cancer drugs. However, patients can still expect to experience mild to moderate side-effects, some of which are listed below, though not intended to be an exhaustive list. If you experience any severe side-effects while taking Gleevec, you should discontinue the medicine and contact your healthcare provider. Common side-effects include:
- Fluid Retention
- Loss of Appetite
Consult your healthcare provider should you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Back Pain
- Shortness of Breath
- Azole antifungals
- HIV protease inhibitors
- Macrolide antibiotics
- St. John's wort
- Some anti-seizure medications