Targeted therapies for leukaemia

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Targeted therapies can stop cancer growing or spreading by targeting specific proteins and gene mutations that help the cancer to grow. Targeted therapies can be used alone or with chemotherapy. New drug treatments are being developed all the time. Some new drugs may be available to you as part of a clinical trial. Ask your consultant about this. 

TKIs for Philadelphia-positive leukaemia 

Targeted therapy drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) can be used to treat leukaemia helped to grow by the abnormal Philadelphia chromosome. They are the main treatment for CML and are also used for Philadelphia-positive ALL.   

The Philadelphia chromosome causes your body to produce the enzyme tyrosine kinase, which makes the leukaemia cells grow and divide more quickly. TKIs work by blocking tyrosine kinase to slow the cancer’s growth. Examples of TKIs include imatinib (Glivec®) and dasatinib (Sprycel®).

What are the side-effects?

You should let your medical team know if you feel unwell while you are taking this medication, you may experience some side effects when taking these drugs.  These can include:

  • Nausea and diarrhoea.
  • Fatigue.
  • Leg aches or other muscle cramps.
  • Swelling of your eyelids, face, fingers or lower legs.
  • Your skin may become more sensitive to sunlight and this may lead to you developing rashes or itchy skin.  Your Cancer Nurse Specialist can advise you on how to care for your skin.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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