This medication is used to treat certain types of cancer (such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative diseases). It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells. Imatinib may also be used to treat certain immune system disorders (such as aggressive systemic mastocytosis, hypereosinophilic syndrome).
How to use Gleevec
Take this medication by mouth with a meal and a full glass of water (8 ounces/240 milliliters) as directed by your doctor, usually once or twice daily. Do not crush the tablets. If you have trouble swallowing the tablets whole, you may dissolve the tablets in a glass of water or apple juice. The amount of liquid will depend on your dose. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more detailed instructions. Stir the mixture well until the tablet(s) dissolve, and drink right away.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). For children, the dosage is also based on their body size.
Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while using this medication unless your doctor or pharmacist says you may do so safely. Grapefruit can increase the chance of side effects with this medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase.
Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the tablets.
Upset stomach, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle/joint pain, muscle cramps, dizziness, blurred vision, or drowsiness may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
People using this medication may have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this drug because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: easy bruising/bleeding, unusual tiredness, sudden/unexplained weight gain, swelling hands/ankles/feet/abdomen, swelling around the eyes, shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, black/bloody stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, symptoms of liver disease (such as nausea/vomiting that doesn’t stop, loss of appetite, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine).
This medication may lower your ability to fight infections. This may make you more likely to get a serious infection or make any infection you have worse. Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn’t go away, fever, chills).
Imatinib sometimes causes side effects due to the rapid destruction of cancer cells (tumor lysis syndrome). To lower your risk, drink plenty of fluids unless your doctor directs you otherwise. Also, your doctor may prescribe an additional medication. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as: low back/side pain (flank pain), signs of kidney problems (such as painful urination, pink/bloody urine, change in the amount of urine), muscle spasms/weakness.
Imatinib can commonly cause a rash that is usually not serious. However, you may not be able to tell it apart from a rare rash that could be a sign of a severe reaction. Get medical help right away if you develop any rash.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.