Using Novartis' cancer drug Gleevec for up to three years after surgery, instead of the commonly followed practice of just one year, could increase the survival period of patients suffering from gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST).
The study, led by Dr Heikki Joensuu from University of Helsinki, Finland, found that taking Gleevec for three years after surgery increased the five year survival chances of the patients by 55 percent compared to those who took the drug for just one year.
Over 400 patients took part in the study that was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. The researchers found that at the end of five years, more than 65 percent of those who had taken the drug for three years were cancer-free compared to 48 percent of those who took it for one year.
"I tend to think three year treatment will be the standard. I think these data are pretty compelling", Joensuu said.