Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Leukemia & Lymphoma

Font Size

Gleevec Gets High Marks for Leukemia Treatment

Study Shows the Drug Is a Successful Therapy for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

March 22, 2011 -- When Jerry Mayfield was diagnosed with leukemia in 1999 his doctors gave him about three years to live. Twelve years later, Mayfield says he feels just fine.

What makes his survival story so remarkable is that it is not remarkable at all.

Mayfield has the blood cancer chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), and he was among the first patients with the disease treated with the targeted biologic drug Gleevec.

Now new research confirms that the drug has transformed a previously fatal leukemia into a manageable chronic disease for many patients who take it.

Life Expectancy Improves

CML patients taking Gleevec (imatinib) were followed for up to eight years. In order to be enrolled in the study, patients needed to be incomplete remission after two years of starting the drug, and the study confirmed that they could expect to live as long as people without cancer.

Gleevec and two second-generation CML drugs that came after it are success stories in targeted cancer therapy.

Before Gleevec’s introduction a decade ago, fewer than half of patients with CML survived for more than seven years and the main drug treatment -- interferon -- left most people feeling miserable with fatigue and persistent flu-like symptoms.

Most patients who take Gleevec respond well to treatment and the new research confirmed that serious side effects are uncommon.

“This is the first study to show that a cancer that cannot be cured by surgery can be controlled to the point that patients have a normal life expectancy,” study researcher Carlo Gambacorti-Passerini, MD, of Italy’s University of Milano Bicocca tells WebMD. “This is quite remarkable.”

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

stem cells
What are they and why do we need them?
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Do you know the symptoms?
Vitamin D
New Treatments For Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
Lifestyle Tips for Depression Slideshow
Pets Improve Your Health