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Tuesday
Mar222011

Gleevec Normalizes Cancer Patients' Life Expectancies, Researchers Say

Duncan Smith/Thinkstock(MILAN, Italy) -- Gleevec is a drug used to treat a type of leukemia as well as a number of other cancers.  Since it was approved by the FDA in 2001, this targeted therapy has been of great benefit to many cancer patients. 

But the authors of a study at the University of Milano in Italy wanted to know how people whose leukemia went into remission after Gleevec treatment fared after years of continued treatment -- meaning, did they relapse?

The researchers assessed over 800 Gleevec-treated patients whose leukemia had gone into remission after two years of treatment.  They found that after six years of treatment, 95 percent of the study participants were still cancer-free, and after eight years, 90 percent were still cancer-free.  This is, according to the authors, a life expectancy not unlike that of the general population. 

Although there were marked negative side effects of continued Gleevec therapy such as skin rashes, gastrointestinal problems and muscle cramps, the authors point out that these findings illustrate just how “profoundly imatinib (Gleevec) has changed the clinical course of CML (chronic myeloid leukemia).”
 
The study consisted of pre-selected patients who responded to Gleevec and went into remission.  Therefore, this study does not mean that all patients with this type of leukemia will have a “normal” life expectancy. Only those who go into complete remission within two years of starting Gleevec therapy experienced a life expectancy comparable to the general population

The study is featured in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio