Imatinib is used to treat certain types of leukemia (cancer that begins in the white blood cells) and other cancers of the blood cells. Imatinib is also used to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST; a type of tumor that grows in the walls of the digestive passages and may spread to other parts of the body). Imatinib is also used to treat dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (a tumor that forms under the top layer of skin) when the tumor cannot be removed surgically, has spread to other parts of the body, or has come back after surgery. Imatinib is in a class of medications called protein-tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It works by blocking the action of the abnormal protein that signals cancer cells to multiply. This helps stop the spread of cancer cells.
Imatinib comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken with a meal and a large glass of water once or twice a day. Take imatinib at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take imatinib exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
If you are unable to swallow imatinib tablets, you may place all of the tablets that you need for one dose into a glass of water or apple juice. Use 50 milliliters (a little less than 2 ounces) of liquid for each 100-mg tablet and 100 milliliters (a little less than 4 ounces) of liquid for each 400-mg tablet. Stir with a spoon until the tablets crumble completely and drink the mixture immediately.
If your doctor has told you to take 800 mg of imatinib, you should take 2 of the 400-mg tablets. Do not take 8 of the 100-mg tablets. The tablet coating contains iron, and you will receive too much iron if you take 8 of the 100-mg tablets.