(HealthDay News) — For patients with chronic myeloid leukemia that fails to respond to interferon alpha therapy, treatment with imatinib is associated with long-term survival of 68 percent, according to a study published online Feb. 27 in Cancer.

Hagop Kantarjian, M.D., from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues investigated the long-term outcome of 368 patients with chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia treated with imatinib following failure of interferon alpha therapy.

The researchers found that, overall, 67 percent of patients achieved a complete cytogenetic response, and 63 percent of the 327 patients who were studied achieved a major molecular response. The rates for estimated 10-year survival, progression-free survival, and event-free survival were 68, 67, and 51 percent, respectively. Age of 60 years or older, hemoglobin less than 10 g/dL, bone marrow basophils at 5 percent or more, any peripheral blasts, and clonal evolution were independent adverse factors for survival on multivariate analysis. In the presence of no factors, one or two factors, or three or more factors, the estimated seven-year survival was 93, 70, and 25 percent, respectively. In an analysis including imatinib response at 12 months, favorable prognostic factors were achieving a major cytogenetic response or better and achieving a complete hematologic or a minor cytogenetic response (hazard ratios, 0.12 and 0.36, respectively).

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“The current results indicated that the estimated 10-year survival rate of 68 percent for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia who receive imatinib after failure on interferon has improved,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis, which manufactures imatinib mesylate.

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