In an article recently published on ASCO’s Journal of Clinical Oncology, long-term results from a major international clinical trial carried out on an intergroup basis reported that a fifth of patients with advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) continue to survive a decade after first taking the targeted drug imatinib, also known as Glivec, one of the first targeted drug that was approved by the FDA. Some 10% of patients are still on the trial after 10 years, living free of any progression of their cancer.
The authors concluded that among clinical prognostic factors, only performance status, KIT mutation, and size of largest lesion predicted long-term outcome, likely pointing to a lower burden of disease; that genomic and/or immune profiling could help understand long-term survivorship; and that addressing secondary resistance remains a therapeutic challenge.
This article on one hand provides evidence that a targeted cancer therapy, a group of drugs that are highly debated, can deliver dramatic, long-term responses even in patients with advanced cancer that has spread round the body; and the need for improved tools for assessing resistance mechanisms of those drugs in order to fulfill the personalized medicine vision on the other hand.
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