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Gleevec is a biological therapy drug prescribed to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), an uncommon type of cancer that targets your blood and bone marrow, where blood cells are made. Most people respond well to this treatment, keeping CML under control for some time. However, Gleevec is not a cure for cancer; it enables you to manage symptoms such as night sweats, fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Gleevec or generic Imatinib Mesylate work as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) to block chemical messengers called tyrosine kinases. This results in the inability of these chemical messengers to help with sending growth signals in cells. The cancer cells are then unable to grow and multiply. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
Gleevec may also be prescribed to treat a rare form of stomach cancer called gastrointestinal stromal tumor, or GIST. The apparent cause of GISTs is random genetic mutations with no known environmental or behavioral risk factors. Smaller tumors generally do not exhibit any symptoms and may go undiagnosed while larger tumors can cause abdominal pain, visible enlargement of your abdomen, and possibly vomiting and diarrhea.
Although tumor removal is usually the primary treatment for GIST, it is not always possible if your tumor is too large or has invaded other organs. Targeted therapy with Gleevec may be taken to shrink the tumor to a more operable size.
Ask your doctor if Gleevec is safe to take if you are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are breast feeding. Explain other medical conditions and allergies you have to your doctor and list all OTC and Rx drugs you currently take or use, including homeopathic remedies and vitamin supplements, as combining any of these could affect how Gleevec will work in your body.
Gleevec may increase the risk of fluid retention or heart problems. Swelling or rapid weight gain, shortness of breath, fast or slow heart rate, weak pulse, or fainting should be reported to your doctor. Keep Gleevec and other meds out of children’s reach and never share these with anyone else.
Side effects such as upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes) should be reported to your doctor immediately as this may indicate signs of liver problems.