Tasigna is prescribed to treat chronic myeloid leukemia in adults age 18 and older. This chemotherapy medicine works to slow down the progression of this disease by blocking the action of a protein in the body that the cancer cells need to grow and multiply. Tasigna can also be used off-label to treat various conditions, such as other types of leukemia or gastrointestinal stromal tumors.
What Is Tasigna Used For?Tasigna® (nilotinib) is a prescription medication approved to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a certain type of leukemia. It belongs to a group of chemotherapy medications called tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It occurs when the bone marrow (the soft tissue in the middle part of the bone that helps make blood cells) begins to produce a large amount of white blood cells that do not mature correctly. These abnormal blood cells continue to reproduce and eventually crowd out normal, healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
There are several different types of leukemia. Chronic myeloid leukemia is a slowly progressing form of leukemia in which too many abnormal granulocytes (a type of white blood cell) are produced. Chronic myeloid leukemia is also sometimes called chronic myelogenous leukemia, or simply just CML.
CML occurs most often in adults, although children can sometimes be affected. People with CML usually have an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph chromosome). CML associated with the Ph chromosome is called Ph chromosome-positive CML.
CML generally progresses through three phases, or stages. These three stages include:
- Chronic phase
- Accelerated phase
- Blast phase.
Most people are diagnosed in the chronic phase. In this phase, symptoms are usually mild or not present. As the number of leukemia cells increases, the disease moves into the accelerated phase, and eventually the blast phase. In the blast phase, CML is much more aggressive, and symptoms may be significant.
Tasigna is approved to treat people who have been newly diagnosed with Ph chromosome-positive CML in the chronic phase. It is also approved to treat people with Ph chromosome-positive CML in the chronic and accelerated phases who have been treated with imatinib (Gleevec®, another leukemia medication) and are no longer responding to it or cannot tolerate it.