Gleevec is a type of drug called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). TKI’s that inhibit KIT and/or PDGFRA are the main types of drugs used for GIST. These drugs may also inhibit other proteins.
Gleevec is used in GIST for:
- Preventative Gleevec (Adjuvant treatment)
- To treat metastatic disease
- To treat inoperable primary tumors
- In some cases, Gleevec is used to shrink a primary tumor in order to make surgery easier. This is called neoadjuvant therapy or neoadjuvant Gleevec.
It inhibits several different proteins including:
- PDGFRA and PDGFRB
- Bcr-Abl (the cause of CML)
Gleevec is known by several different names:
- Gleevec in the U.S.
- Glivec outside the U.S.
- Imatinib or imatinib mesylate (generic name)
- STI571 when it was in trials
Gleevec is a pill that is taken either once or twice daily, depending on the dose.
Gleevec is different from traditional chemotherapy in that it is very selective. Traditional chemotherapy kills all cells that are dividing quickly. This is what causes so many of the side effects of traditional chemotherapy. In addition to the cancer cells, this type of chemotherapy also kills many of the bodies normal cells. Gleevec is much more selective and as a result has fewer side effects.