Gleevec Needs Time to Work

Three months not enough to judge CML patient response to cancer drug, study finds

MONDAY, Dec. 8, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Three months is not enough time to gauge the response of people with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) to treatment with the drug Gleevec (imatinib).

That's what researchers will tell attendees at the American Society of Hematology's annual meeting in San Diego on Dec. 8.

"This data tells us how long a patient should take Gleevec before we measure how well it's fighting CML. This is important in helping us know when during treatment to decide if Gleevec is the best treatment or if a new approach would be better," study author Dr. Brian Drucker, of the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute, says in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues studied data from a randomized study of 553 newly diagnosed chronic phase CML patients, comparing Gleevec with traditional combination therapy using interferon and cytosine arabinoside.

CML is a malignant cancer of the bone marrow in which the body overproduces cancerous white blood cells. Gleevec targets these cancer cells.

Previous research found Gleevec destroys leukemia in 75 percent of CML patients. But it wasn't clear how long patients had to take the drug before its effectiveness could be judged.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about leukemia.

SOURCE: Oregon Health & Science University, news release, Dec. 8, 2003
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