There are clinical improvements in the outcomes of imatinib treatment in patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) since the first randomized studies of the treatment 20 years ago. This is according to a new study by Dutch researchers published in the journal Targeted Oncology.

“These results represent outcomes in real-world clinical practice and can serve as a reference when evaluating effectiveness of imatinib in patients with advanced GIST,” the researchers noted.

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The team hypothesized that treatment outcomes with imatinib are better today than they were 2 decades ago. They used real-life data from the Dutch GIST registry to test their hypothesis. 

There were 435 patients with GIST in the registry who were treated with imatinib, the response of 420 of whom were evaluated and recorded. 

The disease eventually progressed in a little more than half of patients (51.2%) during a median follow-up of 35 months.

However, the median progression-free survival of patients in the Dutch registry was longer than that of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) 62005 trial that marked the first era of imatinib treatment in GIST (33 months vs 19.5 months).

Median overall survival was also longer in the registry at 68 months compared to 46.8 months, as published in the long-term follow-up results of the EORTC 62005 trial.

“This updated effectiveness of imatinib in advanced GIST is of great importance for researchers and clinicians,” the study authors concluded. 

Imatinib is a tyrosine-kinase inhibitor approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2001 and sold by Novartis under the brand name Gleevec. Its introduction led to a remarkable improvement in the progression-free and overall survival of patients with unresectable and metastasized GIST.


Mohammadi M, IJzerman NS, Hollander DD, et al. Improved efficacy of first-line imatinib in advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST): the Dutch GIST registry data. Target Oncol. Published online April 20, 2023. doi:10.1007/s11523-023-00960-y