Gleevec: Uses – Side Effects – Warnings

Gleevec is a brand name for imatinib mesylate, which is a chemotherapy medication used to treat certain types of cancer such as leukemia, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans. It works by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. In this article, we will discuss the uses, benefits, side effects, and warnings associated with Gleevec.


Gleevec is primarily used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. It is also used to treat other blood disorders such as Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL), a rare type of leukemia. Gleevec has also been shown to be effective in treating gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, a rare type of skin cancer.


Gleevec has been highly effective in treating CML and Ph+ ALL. It is known to have a higher success rate compared to other traditional chemotherapy treatments. According to studies, up to 90% of patients with CML and 80% of patients with Ph+ ALL who take Gleevec go into remission within the first year of treatment. Gleevec has also been effective in preventing the recurrence of GISTs and reducing the size of tumors.

Side Effects

Like all chemotherapy medications, Gleevec can cause various side effects, including:

– Nausea and vomiting
– Diarrhea or constipation
– Fatigue
– Muscle cramps
– Pain in the bones, joints, and limbs
– Skin rashes
– Headaches
– Fluid retention
– Anemia

In rare cases, Gleevec may cause serious side effects such as:

– Severe bleeding
– Liver damage
– Heart problems
– Lung problems
– Kidney problems
– Low blood sugar

If you experience any of these serious side effects, seek medical attention immediately.


Before taking Gleevec, inform your doctor if you have a history of liver problems, heart problems, or kidney problems. Gleevec can interact with other medications, so inform your doctor if you are taking any other medications, including over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements.

Gleevec can also interact with certain foods, particularly grapefruit. Do not consume grapefruit or grapefruit juice while taking Gleevec, as it can increase the amount of medication in your bloodstream and cause serious side effects.

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, inform your doctor before taking Gleevec. It is not known if Gleevec can harm an unborn baby.


How long does Gleevec treatment last?

Gleevec treatment duration varies depending on the type of cancer and the severity of the condition. Your doctor will determine the appropriate treatment duration for you.

Can Gleevec cure cancer?

Gleevec is not a cure for cancer, but it is highly effective in treating certain types of cancer and can help manage the symptoms of the disease.

Can Gleevec be taken with food?

Gleevec can be taken with or without food, but it should be taken with a full glass of water.

Can Gleevec cause hair loss?

Hair loss is not a common side effect of Gleevec. However, some patients may experience hair thinning or hair loss as a result of chemotherapy.

How often do I need to take Gleevec?

Gleevec is usually taken once or twice daily, depending on the type and severity of cancer. Follow your doctor’s instructions on how often to take the medication.

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