Cancer pill could keep patients alive for more than 10 years, new study finds


Before cancer drug imatinib mesylate, sold under the name Gleevec, a diagnosis for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) "amounted to a death sentence," according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Now, the drug could keep its patients alive for 10 years or longer, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine Thursday found.

>> Read more trending stories

Data from the global study, which enrolled 1,106 participants at 177 cancer centers in more than 16 countries, showed that the once-a-day pill helped 83 percent of its patients extend their lives for at least a decade.

Prior to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug in 2001, less than one in three CML patients survived five years past their diagnosis, according to a news release ono the study from Oregon Health & Science University.

» RELATED: 6 incredibly rare diseases you’ve probably never heard of 

"This has been the thrill of my life," Dr. Richard Silver, a hematologist and oncologist in New York who helped test the drug in patients, told NBC News.

According to Silver, Gleevec is the first targeted personalized medicine ever used -- and the most successful.

» RELATED: 3 young cancer survivors share happy update 

One of the surviving patients is Bharat Shah, who told NBC News he had six months to three years to live upon his diagnosis in 2000.

After joining a clinical trial of Gleevec, Shah said he was back to normal within two months. After 17 years using the drug, the only side effect is that his eyes get a little puffy.

Gleevec also proved effective against other forms of cancer, including pediatric CML and gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), the study found.

Common side effects, according to the study, included nausea, fatigue, itchy skin and muscle pain.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Georgia student discovers birth brother attended same college, had same major
Georgia student discovers birth brother attended same college, had same major

The slogan for purchasing a DNA test kit on the genealogy website Ancestry.com is "Open a world of possibilities." >> Read more trending newsFor a Georgia college junior, a DNA test earlier this week opened up his family history and helped him connect to a long-lost sibling and his birth parents.Kieron Christian Graham, 20, is majoring...
Precious photos show Santa visiting infants at Ohio hospital
Precious photos show Santa visiting infants at Ohio hospital

Santa Claus made a special trip to an Ohio hospital to spread Christmas love to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. At Akron Children’s Hospital, 66 families received a special visit from St. Nick, who held the infants and chatted with the babies’ older siblings, WJW reported. The hospital posted some of the photographs on its ...
Watch: Coyote attacks dog in suburban Chicago yard
Watch: Coyote attacks dog in suburban Chicago yard

An Illinois couple posted a scary video that showed their dog being attacked by a coyote. It happened very quickly in the Chicago suburb of Northfield, WGN reported. Boozer, a cairn terrier, was outside when a coyote rushed in and circled it. The coyote then attacked, biting the 14-pound dog’s head and dragging it around the back yard. The...
California swimmer hospitalized after sea lion bites him on the arm
California swimmer hospitalized after sea lion bites him on the arm

A California man was hospitalized after being bitten on the arm by a sea lion in the waters off San Francisco, The Los Angeles Times reported. The attack occurred Thursday near Aquatic Park, San Francisco police said. The man had been swimming when the sea lion approached him. The man said he felt threatened and began splashing water at the animal...
Female Democrat pulls out of House race amid sexual misconduct accusations
Female Democrat pulls out of House race amid sexual misconduct accusations

Andrea Ramsey, a Kansas Democrat running for a House seat in 2018, has dropped out of the race amid sexual misconduct accusations, according to the Kansas City Star. The retired businesswoman — who was considered one of the Democratic Party’s brightest political prospects — was hoping to challenge Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder...
More Stories