Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I started taking Gleevec (www.gleevec.com)on March 17, 2006. This medication has been called a wonder drug since it has changed the way CML is treated. Prior to its approval in about 2001, there were few options for CML treatment. The primary option was a bone marrow transplant which in the long-term could potentially cure CML. In the short-term, however, there are severe risks during the procedure itself. Other medications that were used had significant side effects were not as successful as Gleevec.

Based on my readings about Gleevec, it is really an incredible medication. As one of my doctors suggested, it is the poster child for the way we target treating some diseases in the future. What makes Gleevec so different is the fact that it is supposed to produce chromosomal changes to reverse some of the effects of CML. In addition, the side effects are fairly minimal compared to many chemotherapy medications.

So far, after about 3 weeks, I have had a few side effects. Initially, I had nausea for about an hour after taking the medication. That has slowly gone away. The other side effect I have noticed is muscle cramps, particularly at night. In my left foot, it almost feels like someone has put a vice around my foot. This does not last too long, but can be very painful. Those have really been the only side effects I have experienced so far.

The Gleevec has lowered my blood count into the normal range within 2 weeks. The doctors are monitoring my white blood count to make sure it does not go too low too quickly. I will have a bone marrow biopsy at 6 months to determine whether the chromosomal changes have started. That seems like an eternity to wait, but what else can you do.

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