New advancement in Cancer Therapies


With today's new innovations in detection, prevention and treatment, being diagnosed with cancer is no longer means that you are facing a terminal disease.

Cancer has always been associated with fear and loss. With today's new discoveries in detection, prevention, and treatment of cancer; it means that there is always a new hope for the patients. Recently, the NCI (National Cancer Institute) stated that the risk for Americans of dying from cancer is continuously declining, indicating that there is a great progress in early detection, prevention, and treatment of cancer. New advancement in cancer therapies appears to be helping patients in the fight against this deadly disease.

The next advancement in cancer therapy that is deemed to be promising is the on-going Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). TCGA is a pilot project conducted by the NCI and also NHGRI (National Human genome research institute). Researchers have begun to uncover various genes that play a big role in cancer. However, they have just discovered only a small portion of these genes. The project's main objective is to better understand the mechanism in cancer in the genetic level. Scientists hope that a better understanding of cancer's genetic and how cancer spreads and develops, will lead to the discovery of new methods to diagnose and detect cancer at the earliest stage, which is the most treatable stage of cancer. Thus, ultimately, they can come up with new therapies and strategies to prevent and cure cancer.

By understanding the genetic basis of cancer, scientists had developed the first drug that can target the faulty genes. This can make a huge difference in the lives of cancer's victims. Try to ask Bob Ferber. The Los Angeles attorney was diagnosed with Ph+ CML (Philadelphia chromosome-positive Chronic Myeloid Leukemia), a malignant tumor of the bone marrow and blood, in July of 1999.

Ferber tried many unsuccessful attempts of therapy before entering a clinical trial for Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) tablest, which is a newly invented drug to combat this disease. Within a few months, Ferber's WBC (White Blood Cells) counts were in a normal range and the disease was in remission.

Gleevec is one of the first targeted treatments and works by turning off the cause of Ph+ CML specifically. This drug was approved in 2011 by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). This achievement is something the TCGA hopes to make possible in the future for many other forms of cancers.

"When I was diagnosed with CML, it was really scary. But, I'm very grateful now. I'm very grateful for each new day that I have." - Bob Ferber.

Unfortunately, not everyone's experience and story is positive. Unlike Bob Ferber's, there are still many patients who suffer from cancer and cannot be cured. Hopefully, with new advancement of cancer research and awareness, cancer victims will one day be able to be free of cancer, breathe a sigh of relief, and agree with Bob Ferber when he says, "Each time I challenge this cancer, physically and emotionally, and eventually survive. It's a victory for me."

About Gleevec tablets

Gleevec tablets are indicated to treat Ph+ CML in chronic phase for newly diagnosed adult patients. This drug is also indicated for patients of Ph+ CML in blast crisis, in chronic or accelerated phase after the failure of IFN- α (interferon-alpha) therapy.

Important Safety Information:

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  • Major side effects were reported among Gleevec recipients, which are:
  • Severe neutropenia (NCI Grades 3/4)
  • Loss of voice
  • Nosebleed
  • Pale skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Anemia
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Hemorrhage
  • Fluid retention (eg, pleural effusion, pulmonary edema, and ascites)
  • Superficial edema
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Hepatotoxicity
  • Minor side effects were also reported among the recipients, which are:
  • Belching
  • Loose stools
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen joints
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of strength
  • Feeling empty or sad
  • Patients should be monitored and weighed regularly for symptoms and signs of edema, which can be life threatening.
  • Bullous dermatologic reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome and erythema multiform, have also been reported. As the side effects of Gleevec. In some cases, the side effect occurs after the re-administration of the drug.
  • There are also other reports of the side effects of Gleevec, including cerebral edema, fatalities, of cardiac tamponade, papilledema, gastrointestinal perforation, and increased intracranial pressure.
  • Several post-marketing cases report an improvement or resolution of bullous reaction after the dose is reduced.
  • It may be necessary to adjust the dose is hepaoxicity, hematologic adeverse events, and non-hemotologic adverse events occur.
  • The treatment was discountinued in 3-5% of patients due to adverse effects.
  • Patients who have severe hepatic problems must be treated with a starting dose of 300 mg/day and have to be closely monitored.
  • Gleevec is an inhibitor of CYP2D6, CYP3A4, and CYP2C9 and is metabolized by the CYP3A4 isoenzyme.
  • The dosage should increase by at least 50% in patients receiving combination therapies with phenytoin and rifampicin. Their clinical response should be monitored closely as well.
  • Drugs that may interact with Gleevec are warfarin, phenytoin, erythromycin, and acetaminophen.
  • For daily dosing of 800mg tablets and above, dosing should be achieved using the 400mg Gleevec tablets to reduce exposure to iron.
  • The use of the tablets is contraindicated in patients who have hypersensitivity to imatinib or a component within the tablets.
  • Pregnant women should not take it.
  • Because of the probability for serious adverse effects, women should not be breast-feeding while taking the Gleevec Tablets.

Common Side Effects:

  • From 1700 adult patients who are administered with Gleevec in clinical studies, the majority experienced adverse effects at some time, but most was mild or moderate in severity.
  • The most frequently reported adverse effects were:
  • Superficial edema
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Fatigue
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Supportive care can help the management of most mild and moderate adverse effects so that prescribed dose can be continued whenever possible.
  • Gleevec tablets ought to be taken with food and water to minimize gastrointestinal irritation.
  • Do not take the tablet with grapefruit juice.