Leukemia Home > Gleevec

Certain types of cancer can be treated with Gleevec, including dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, leukemia, and a certain kind of gastrointestinal tumor. This drug comes in the form of a tablet and is available in two different strengths. It is taken once or twice a day with food and a large glass of water. Common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, and fatigue.

What Is Gleevec?

Gleevec® (imatinib mesylate) is a prescription medication that contains imatinib mesylate, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are a class of chemotherapy medicines. Gleevec is approved for the treatment of certain types of cancer, including:
 
  • Leukemia and other cancers of the blood and bone marrow
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST, a cancer of the digestive tract)
  • A rare type of skin cancer known as dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans.
     
(Click Gleevec Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Who Makes This Medication?

Gleevec is made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.
 

How Does It Work?

Gleevec works by blocking an enzyme in the body known as tyrosine kinase. This enzyme tells cancer cells to grow and multiply. When tyrosine kinase is blocked, the cancer cells stop growing, or grow more slowly, which can slow down the progression of the disease.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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