ASCO: Gleevec Confirmed As First-Line Therapy for CML

Five-year study shows it extends survival and reduces the risk of disease progression

MONDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- In patients newly diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), long-term imatinib (Gleevec) therapy significantly improves survival and progressively reduces the risk of disease progression compared to standard therapy, according to research presented this week at the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Atlanta.

Beginning in mid-2000, Brian J. Druker, M.D., of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, and colleagues studied 1,106 patients at 117 centers in 16 counties with a median follow-up of 54 months. At the start of the trial, they randomly assigned half of the patients to receive imatinib and half to receive the standard treatment with interferon-alpha and cytarabine arabinoside.

The researchers found that overall survival in the imatinib group was 89 percent, and 95 percent when non-CML causes of death were excluded. They also found that 93 percent of the imatinib group did not progress to accelerated phase/blast crisis (AP/BC). The imatinib group's annual rate of progression to AP/BC declined to less than 1 percent in the fourth year. After the interferon-alpha group was later allowed to cross over to imatinib, only 3 percent continued on interferon-alpha therapy.

"Late responses to imatinib occur and responses are durable," Druker said. "Imatinib is confirmed as the standard first-line therapy for all CML patients."

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Rick Ansorge

Rick Ansorge

Updated on June 05, 2006

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