2. Center for Molecular Medicine, Medical Genetics Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital CMM L8:01, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden.
Background: Imatinib is considered to be the first-line therapy for patients with unresectable and/or metastatic gastrointestinal stromal cell tumors (GIST). The aim of this study was to analyze the occurrence of side-effects and clinical outcome.
Materials & Methods: 75 consecutive patients (41âï¿½ï¿½; median age 62 years, range 34-82), with GIST, who had received pre- and/or postoperative imatinib, were retrospectively reviewed. Chi-square test was used to compare the occurrence and distribution of side-effects and the Kaplan- Meier method was applied for survival analysis.
Results: The median follow-up time from the initiation of imatinib treatment was 48 months (4-107); median size of tumor was 10.3 cm (2.5–28) cm. Moderate to severe or life-threatening toxic reactions from imatinib treatment were registered in 30/75 patients (17/34âï¿½ï¿½ ). Most of the side-effects occurred early, 18/30 within the first month of imatinib treatment. Life-threatening complications occurred in two cases: agranulocytosis and tumor perforation. For the group of patients with metastatic or recurrent GIST (n=34), presence of side-effects and female gender were associated with increased recurrence-free survival (P =0.01).
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that side-effects from imatinib treatment are common. Their occurrence may be associated with a better outcome for patients with GIST.
Keywords: GIST, imatinib, side-effects, outcome