Imatinib is an anti-cancer drug that is used to control the growth of cancer in a patient’s body. It is widely used to treat blood cancer, skin cancer, and gastrointestinal tumors.
It is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor drug that helps to stop the growth of cancer cells and eventually kills them. It works by inhibiting a protein that is required for normal functioning and multiplication of cancer cells. Therefore, it stops the growth of cancer cells and controls the tumor.
Imatinib, like any other drug, has side effects that can be managed by taking some medications. It is advised to take a lot of water with imatinib as it is a heavy drug.
Which cancer is it used to treat?
Imatinib is used to treat different types of cancers in humans. But majorly it is prescribed for blood cancers, skin cancer, and GI tract cancer. The prescription of imatinib is based on the type and stage of certain cancers. Some of these cancers are given below:
- Blood cancer – Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and Hyper eosinophilic syndrome or chronic eosinophilic leukemia.
- Skin cancer – Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
Imatinib is used to treat the cancers listed here, apart from that it is also prescribed to use for other medical conditions. For such applications, only doctors can prescribe imatinib.
How is it given?
Imatinib is available in the form of tablets and capsules which can be taken through the mouth. The frequency to take the medicine may change and be decided by the doctor according to the patient’s medical conditions. It is prescribed to take imatinib medication with food.
What are the common side effects of imatinib?
As with any other medicine, chemotherapy drugs also have several unwanted side effects. These side effects may not be experienced by every patient, but they are observed in the majority of cancer patients taking imatinib. Some of these side effects are given below:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Muscle cramp
- Abdominal pain
- Pain In bones, joints, or muscles
- Rashes on skin
- Hair loss
- Blurry vision
These are some of the most commonly observed side effects in patients who take imatinib as chemotherapy.
Apart from these, other side effects can be there. If you experience any unwanted effects, consult your doctors. These side effects are manageable by taking some medications.
What precautions should you take?
Imatinib is used to treat different types of cancers but some precautions must be taken to avoid complications. Some of the most common precautions are:
Take imatinib with food and a glass of water to reduce any harmful side effects.
Consult with your doctor if you are suffering from any other diseases for which you have to take medication. As imatinib can interact with other drugs and cause serious issues. Always consult your oncologist before taking any other medications.
Imatinib can make the patients much more sensitive to sunlight hence it is advised to avoid going out or use high-SPF sunscreen before leaving the house.
It is advised to not get pregnant while taking imatinib and avoid breastfeeding as well.
As mentioned above, imatinib can cause swelling and inflammation therefore consult your doctor if you experience sudden weight gain or swelling in any region of the body.
If you ever had hepatitis B, inform your doctor before chemotherapy as imatinib can make you more sensitive to infections and there are chances of reoccurrence of such deadly infections. If you develop any symptoms like sore throat, breathlessness, high fever, unwanted bleeding, or bruising immediately contact your doctor.
Avoid taking imatinib with grape juice as it may increase the complications of side effects.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember but if it’s time for the next dose, skip the missed one and do not take the tablet twice. In case of an overdose, immediately rush to the hospital or contact your doctor.
These are some of the common precautions one must take to avoid serious problems. Before taking imatinib, consult with your doctor about all complications or queries that you may have. Tell your doctor about any medical condition that you may have before the chemotherapy treatment.