According to a story from cnbc.com, the pharmaceutical company Novartis recently announced that their anticancer drug Tasigna has been approved for the treatment of patients one year or older that have Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia that has entered the chronic phase. This approval further expands the role of the medication in treating this rare cancer type.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the white blood cells. In this type, myeloid cells are affected. They multiply in the bone marrow and are found at elevated levels in the blood stream as well. The cause of this type of cancer is unknown, though it appears to affect men at a slightly higher rate than women. Symptoms include bleeding, bone pain, bone fibrosis, petechiae, and ecchymosis. As a long term disease, most patients are diagnosed in the chronic phase, in which there usually only face mild symptoms. Outside of this phase, the cancer becomes far more dangerous and does not respond as well to treatment. Advances in treatment have produced a good five year survival rate of 89 percent. To learn more about chronic myelogenous leukemia, click here.
Compared to many other rare cancers, patients with CML have a reasonable array of options from which to choose. The only curative options are bone marrow or stem cell transplant, which can be risky, but the treatment of CML has been dominated by a class of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors, which are the primary driver of the high survival rate for CML. However, new drugs of this type have been developed steadily over the years as it is possible for the cancer to become resistant to treatment.