Background. Imatinib mesylate, an inhibitor of KIT, ABL protein, and platelet-derived growth factor receptor α (PDGFRα) tyrosine kinase, has recently been found to have a dramatic antitumor effect on gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of imatinib mesylate in Japanese patients with advanced GIST. Methods. Patients with measurable lesions were enrolled between April 1, 2002, and September 20, 2002, using a design based on previous phase II studies in the United States and the European Union. The diagnosis of GIST was proven histologically with positive immunostaining for KIT (CD117). Imatinib mesylate was administered at a dose of either 400 mg or 600 mg once a day. Pharmacokinetic parameters and mutation analysis of c-kit were also assessed in a subgroup of patients. Results. A total of 74 patients (28 receiving imatinib mesylate at 400 mg/day; 46 receiving 600 mg/day); median age, 56.0 years, were enrolled. No patient had a complete response, 51 patients (69%) had a partial response, and 19 patients (26%) had stable disease. The median progression-free survival time was 96 weeks. The estimated 3-year overall survival (Kaplan-Meier) rate for all patients was 73.6%. The most frequent adverse effects related to the drug were nausea (78%), diarrhea (70%), dermatitis (62%), facial edema (61%), edema of the lower limbs (58%), vomiting (54%), and eyelid edema (51%). Most of the adverse effects were mild and manageable. Conclusion. Imatinib mesylate is generally safe and has significant activity in the treatment of advanced GIST in Japanese patients.
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