Adjuvant Gleevec given after surgery to prevent or delay a recurrence
Most GIST patients have surgery to remove a primary tumor and do not have detectable metastases at the time of surgery. Adjuvant therapy refers to additional treatment given after a main mode of therapy. For example, Gleevec given after surgery in hopes of preventing or delaying a recurrence is called adjuvant therapy.
Gleevec is approved for adjuvant therapy in many countries. In a Phase III randomized trial, one year of treatment with adjuvant Gleevec resulted in 97% of GIST patients being recurrence-free one year after surgery compared to an 83% recurrence-free rate for placebo. In this trial, there was no difference in overall survival between the two groups. In a different Phase III trial, three years of Gleevec proved superior to one year of Gleevec, increasing not only the time before a recurrence but, more importantly, the overall survival time of the patients.