Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients who are unresponsive to conventional treatments could be given imatinib in the future.
A new report from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has found that the targeted drug can be very effective, as 93 per cent of CML sufferers who use the gene-inhibiting medicine survive at least eight years. Without imatinib, the average survival span is only three to six years.
The scientists state these results show most patients can benefit from imatinib use after unsuccessful interferon treatments and other therapeutic options do not always have to be considered.
However, doctors warned that despite the successes, little is known about the long-term prognosis of patients who receive the drug.
Cancer Research UK states that CML is split into three stages. In the chronic and accelerated phase, symptoms include tiredness, weight loss and an enlarged spleen, in the blast phase symptoms develop rapidly and patients begin to feel unwell.