Gleevec and GIST

Gleevec® (imatinib mesylate) is used to treat certain types of cancers of the blood, bone marrow, skin, and digestive tract. The specific types of cancer this drug is approved to treat include:
 
  • Leukemia and related cancers of the blood and bone marrow
  • A rare type of skin cancer known as dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
  • A rare type of gastrointestinal cancer called gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST).
     
GIST starts when cells in the wall of the GI tract, called interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC), begin to grow out of control. The most common treatment for GIST is surgery. If the tumors are small, surgery may be the only treatment needed. However, the tumors may grow back, or the cancer cells may spread to other areas of the body.
 
GIST that cannot be treated with surgery, or that has spread, may be treated with Gleevec. This product is also approved to prevent recurrence of the disease after treatment with surgery.
 
(Click Gleevec Uses to learn more about treating GIST, as well as the other conditions listed in this article, with this chemotherapy drug.)
 
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