Glivec tablets contain the active ingredient Imatinib, which is a type of anticancer medicine called a protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor. It is mainly used to treat cancer of the blood cells (leukaemia), but is also used to treat a rare cancer of the stomach and intestine and a type of skin cancer.
In people with CML or GIST, their cells have a damaged protein on their surface. A signal is sent out for growth and division even when there is no growth factor present. Glivec recognises the faulty protein and attaches onto it, turning it off and preventing the cells from growing and dividing.
Glivec only acts on cancerous cells because these are the only cells that carry the abnormal tyrosine kinase. This means Imatinib stops the growth of the abnormal cancerous cells, while having little effect on the growth of normal healthy cells.
Glivec is a dark yellow to brownish-orange tablet. It comes in two strengths: 100mg and 400mg.
The number of tablets to take, how often to take them and how long the treatment should be continued for depends on the condition being treated and how it responds to the treatment. It is important to follow the instructions given by your doctor.
Glivec is normally taken once a day. You should take the tablets with a meal and a large glass of water in order to minimise irritation to the gut. For people unable to swallow the tablets, they may be dispersed in a glass of mineral water or apple juice.
Each person’s reaction to treatment is different. Some people have very few side effects while others may experience more. The side effects of Glivec are generally mild or moderate. They often occur during the first month of treatment and may get better after this initial period.