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STIM study suggests possibility of cure for some tyrosine-kinase inhibitor-treated patients

-- Jeff Muise

Thursday, October 21, 2010 (Last Updated: 10/22/2010)

THURSDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Some chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients achieve complete remission for up to two years after stopping imatinib treatment, suggesting some patients might actually be cured by treatment with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor, according to a study published online Oct. 20 in The Lancet Oncology.

François-Xavier Mahon, M.D., of the Universitaire de Bordeaux in France, and colleagues in the Stop Imatinib (STIM) study halted imatinib treatment in 100 CML patients from 19 treatment centers who had been treated at least two years and were in sustained complete molecular remission. The French researchers followed the patients for the incidence of relapse as indicated by rising BCR-ABL oncogene fusion protein levels.

The researchers found that 41 percent of the patients taken off treatment for one year and 38 percent taken off treatment for two years remained in remission. Of the 42 patients no longer in remission, 40 had relapsed before six months, one after seven months, and one after 19 months. The relapsed patients all responded to resumed imatinib treatment. Factors associated with maintained remission were male sex, a low prognostic Sokal score, and long treatment with imatinib.

"Imatinib discontinuation in this setting yields promising results for molecular relapse-free survival, raising the possibility that, at least in some patients, CML might be cured with tyrosine kinase inhibitors," the authors write.

One study author disclosed receiving grant support from Novartis.

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Specialties Gastroenterology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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