Imatinib Improves Survival in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

Of the 20 deaths observed after starting imatinib, only six were linked to CML progression

FRIDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in complete cytogenetic remission (CCyR) for two years after starting imatinib have similar survival to that of the general population, according to a study published online March 21 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Carlo Gambacorti-Passerini, M.D., from the University of Milano Bicocca in Monza, Italy, and colleagues investigated the incidence of serious and nonserious adverse events and loss of CCyR in 832 CML patients who started imatinib treatment before 2005 and were in complete CCyR after an average of two years. During an average follow-up of 5.8 years, negative Philadelphia chromosome hematopoiesis attainment, cumulative death incidence related or unrelated to CML progression, and age- and sex-specific standardized incidence ratios were analyzed.

The investigators found that 19.4 percent of the 139 serious adverse events and 68 percent of the 830 nonserious adverse events recorded were imatinib-related. As a result of drug-related toxicity, 19 patients discontinued imatinib. Loss of CCyR was seen in 45 patients at a rate of 1.4 per 100 person-years, and 179 patients attained durable (more than one year) negative Philadelphia chromosome hematopoiesis. The mortality incidence rate was 4.8 percent (standardized incidence ratio, 0.7), with six of the 20 deaths related to CML progression.

"CML-related deaths were uncommon in CML patients who were in CCyR two years after starting imatinib, and survival was not statistically significantly different from that of the general population," the authors write.

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