Read this if you've ever had surgery to remove KIT+ GIST

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See the difference longer GLEEVEC therapy after surgery can make:

1 year of treatment after surgery

58% were recurrence free

42% (84 patients) had recurrence of KIT+ GIST

Recurrence free means KIT+ GIST has not come back


3 years of treatment after surgery

75% were recurrence free

25% (50 patients) had recurrence of KIT+ GIST

People in the trial were studied for a median of 3.5 years (42 months)

More about the study

This study compared 2 groups of people (397 in total) after surgery for KIT+ GIST:

  • 198 people took GLEEVEC for 3 years
  • 199 people took GLEEVEC for 1 year

All people in the study had 1 of the following tumor conditions:

  • Tumor size >5 cm with a growth rate >5 per 50 high-power fields
  • Tumor size >10 cm with any rate of growth
  • Any tumor size with a growth rate >10 per 50 high-power fields
  • A tumor that has ruptured

* High-power fields (or HPFs) are a unit of

measure for the visible area under a microscope during maximum magnification.


Important Safety Information

Common side effects with GLEEVEC include fluid retention (holding water), muscle cramps or pain and bone pain, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased hemoglobin (decrease in blood cells which carry oxygen), nausea, fatigue, rash, and anorexia (loss of appetite).

Please see Indications and additional Important Safety Information below.

Please see full Prescribing Information at, which includes a more complete discussion of the risks associated with GLEEVEC.

How GLEEVEC works

GLEEVEC is not a cure for KIT+ GIST. Most GIST cancer is thought to be caused by increased KIT activity that leads to cancer cells growing out of control. (KIT is a protein that controls reproduction of cells.) GLEEVEC targets several different proteins (including Bcr-Abl, PDGF, SCF)—and the KIT protein which is believed to cause most GISTs. Tests done in a laboratory environment (in vitro) show GLEEVEC blocks KIT activity in GIST so that most of the cancer cells stop growing and multiplying, and some cancer cells even die.

The importance of taking GLEEVEC as prescribed

Even with no sign of KIT+ GIST after surgery, staying on treatment as prescribed may help decrease the chance of your KIT+ GIST returning.

Speak to an oncologist about your next steps after surgery. See if GLEEVEC therapy is right for you.

Important Information

GLEEVEC® (imatinib mesylate) is available only by prescription.

GLEEVEC Indications

  • GLEEVEC tablets are indicated for the treatment of patients with KIT (CD117)-positive gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) that cannot be surgically removed and/or have spread to other parts of the body
  • GLEEVEC is also approved for use after surgery in adult patients who have had their KIT (CD117)-positive GIST completely removed

Important Safety Information

Who should NOT take GLEEVEC

  • Women who are or could be pregnant. Harm to the unborn child can occur when administered to pregnant women. Therefore, women should not become pregnant and should be advised of the potential risk to the unborn child if GLEEVEC is used during pregnancy
  • Women who are breastfeeding because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants

Sexually active females should use highly effective birth control while taking GLEEVEC.

Be sure to talk to your doctor and/or health care professional about these issues before taking GLEEVEC.

Warnings and Precautions

  • GLEEVEC is often associated with edema (swelling) and serious fluid retention (holding water). It is important that patients be weighed and monitored regularly for signs and symptoms of serious fluid retention or unexpected weight gain. Patients experiencing unexpected, rapid weight gain should speak to their doctor about appropriate supportive care treatment. Studies have shown that edema tended to occur more often among patients who are 65 and older or those taking higher doses of GLEEVEC. If you experience severe fluid retention, your doctor may treat you with diuretics and may stop your GLEEVEC treatment until the fluid retention has been managed. Treatment can be resumed as appropriate, depending on the initial severity of the event
  • Cytopenias (reduction or lack of certain cell elements in blood circulation) have occurred. Your doctor will test your blood weekly for the first month, biweekly for the second month, and periodically thereafter. In most cases, your doctor will reduce or interrupt your GLEEVEC therapy; in rare cases, if the cytopenia is severe, your doctor may discontinue treatment
  • Congestive heart failure (impaired ability of the heart to pump blood) and left ventricular dysfunction (impaired functioning of the left side of the heart) have been reported, particularly in patients with other health issues and risk factors. Patients with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease or history of renal failure will be monitored and treated for the condition
  • Severe liver problems (hepatotoxicity) may occur. Cases of fatal liver failure and severe liver injury requiring liver transplants have been reported with both short-term and long-term use of GLEEVEC. Your doctor will check your liver function before beginning treatment and continue to monitor liver function as needed. If you experience severe liver problems, your doctor may stop your treatment with GLEEVEC until the liver problem has been managed
  • Bleeding may occur. Severe gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding has been reported in patients with KIT+ GIST. GI tumor sites may be the cause of this bleeding. Gleevec is sometimes associated with GI irritation. GI perforation (small holes or tears in the wall of the stomach or intestine), in some cases fatal, has been reported
  • In patients with hypereosinophilic syndrome (a condition with increased eosinophils, which are a type of white blood cell) and heart involvement, cases of heart disease have been associated with the initiation of GLEEVEC therapy. Speak to your doctor regarding appropriate supportive care or discontinuing GLEEVEC
  • Skin reactions, such as fluid-filled blisters, have been reported with the use of GLEEVEC
  • Clinical cases of hypothyroidism (reduction in thyroid hormones) have been reported in patients taking levothyroxine replacement during treatment with GLEEVEC. Your doctor should closely monitor your thyroid hormone levels
  • GLEEVEC can cause harm to the unborn child when administered to a pregnant woman. Women should be aware of the potential harm to the fetus. Be sure to inform your doctor if you are or think you may be pregnant. You should not breastfeed while taking GLEEVEC
  • Growth retardation (slowing of growth) has been reported in children taking GLEEVEC. The long-term effects of extended treatment with GLEEVEC on growth in children are unknown. Growth retardation may be monitored in children receiving treatment
  • Cases of tumor lysis syndrome (TLS), which refers to an electrolyte disturbance caused by the breakdown of tumor cells, have been reported and can be life threatening in some instances. The patients at risk for TLS are those who have a higher number of tumor cells and whose tumors are fast growing before beginning therapy. Your doctor should monitor you closely and take appropriate precautions. Correction of clinically significant dehydration and treatment of high uric acid levels are recommended prior to initiation of GLEEVEC
  • Motor vehicle accidents involving patients receiving GLEEVEC have been reported. Patients should be advised that they may experience undesirable effects such as dizziness, blurred vision, or drowsiness during treatment with GLEEVEC. Caution should be recommended when driving a car or operating machinery

Additional Important Safety Information

The following serious side effects have been reported by patients taking GLEEVEC:

  • Severe fluid retention (holding water), which can cause swelling around the eyes or swelling of the lower legs, lungs, and heart; fatal in rare cases
  • Increased pressure in the heart or brain; fatal in rare cases
  • Low levels of certain blood cells
  • Heart failure
  • Liver problems
  • Hemorrhage (abnormal bleeding)
  • Skin blistering
  • Low levels of thyroid hormone

Your doctor will check you closely for any side effects to stop more serious complications from occurring. Patients with heart disease or risk factors for heart failure should also be monitored carefully.

GLEEVEC is sometimes associated with stomach or intestinal irritation. GLEEVEC should be taken with food and a large glass of water to minimize this problem. There have been rare reports, including deaths, of stomach or intestinal perforation (a small hole or tear).

If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned side effects, please be sure to speak with your doctor immediately.

Common Side Effects of GLEEVEC

Almost all patients with KIT+ GIST treated with GLEEVEC experience side effects at some time. In various studies, a range of 5% to 17% of patients stopped taking GLEEVEC due to side effects. Some common side effects that you may experience include:

  • Fluid retention (holding water)
  • Muscle cramps or pain and bone pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased hemoglobin (decrease in blood cells which carry oxygen)
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite)

If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned side effects, please be sure to speak with your doctor immediately.

The severity of some side effects may be reduced with the help of other medicines and advice from your doctor, while others may require stopping GLEEVEC therapy or changing the dose. However, in some cases, GLEEVEC therapy may need to be discontinued.

Tell your doctor if you have a history of heart disease or risk factors for heart disease or if you experience side effects, including fever, shortness of breath, blood in your stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and/or eyes), sudden weight gain, or symptoms of heart failure during therapy with GLEEVEC. After the approval of GLEEVEC, the following adverse events have been reported in patients treated with GLEEVEC: compression of the heart due to increased fluid, swelling of the brain, GI perforation (holes in the stomach or intestine), and sudden lung failure. These events, including some fatalities, may or may not have been drug related.

Take GLEEVEC exactly as prescribed. Do not change your dose or stop taking GLEEVEC unless you are told to do so by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take your dose as soon as possible, unless it is almost time for your next dose. In this case, your missed dose should not be taken. A double dose should not be taken to make up for any missed dose. You should take GLEEVEC with a meal and a large glass of water.

Do not take any other medications without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first, including over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol® (acetaminophen); herbal products (St. John's wort, Hypericum perforatum); or prescription medications including Coumadin® (warfarin sodium); rifampin; erythromycin; metoprolol; ketoconazole; and Dilantin® (phenytoin). Taking these with GLEEVEC may affect how they work or affect how GLEEVEC works.

You should also tell your doctor if you are taking or plan to take iron supplements. Patients should also avoid grapefruit juice and other foods that may affect how GLEEVEC works.

Tylenol (acetaminophen) is a registered trademark of McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, a division of McNeil PPC, Inc. Coumadin (warfarin sodium) is a registered trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. Dilantin (phenytoin) is a registered trademark of Parke-Davis, a division of Pfizer Inc.

Please see accompanying full Prescribing Information, which includes a more complete discussion of the risks associated with GLEEVEC.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.