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Patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer need constant Gleevec (imatinib) treatment, research has shown.
The study, which was published in the September 22 online edition of The Lancet Oncology, revealed that 50 patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST), who had received consistent Gleevec treatment for three years, registered no disease progression.
Every three months the patients involved in the research were assessed with CT scans, and nine months was the median time for disease progression to occur in those not on a regular Gleevec dose.
After three years of follow-up, the two-year survival rate without disease progression was 80% among individuals that continued treatment, but only 16% for those whose medicine was interrupted.
Investigators discovered that Gleevec does not totally destroy the GIST cells, so the disease can progress if treatment is stopped.
Patients in the research were randomly selected to either continue or stop having the Gleevec treatment.
Copyright Press Association 2010