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Everyone hopes and wishes for that last-minute cancer breakthrough that will save doomed patients. It almost never actually happens. With Gleevec, it did.
The once-a-day pill turned chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML, from a certain death sentence into a manageable disease. Now data shows it’s helped 83 percent of patients live 10 years or longer, even with side-effects that include a characteristic rash, nausea and fatigue.
And some may be able to stop taking the pills altogether, even though they are not cured, the original team of researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine Thursday.
“It’s the first targeted personalized medicine that had ever been used. It was also the most successful,” said Dr. Richard Silver, a hematologist and oncologist at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center who helped first test the drug in patients.
Carlos Chavez / LA Times via Getty Images
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