Review Article

Optimizing Adherence to Adjuvant Imatinib in Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

Eric D. Tetzlaff, MHS, PA-C, and Monica P. Davey, RN, BSN, MEd, MB

From Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mr. Tetzlaff is a member of the speakers’ bureau at Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Davey served as a clinical research coordinator for a clinical trial sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Financial support for medical editorial assistance was provided by Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

Correspondence to: Eric Tetzlaff, MHS, PA-C, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Medical Oncology, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111. E-mail: eric.tetzlaff@fccc.edu


J Adv Pract Oncol 2013;4:238–250 | DOI: 10.6004/jadpro.2013.4.4.4 | © 2013 Harborside Press®


  

ABSTRACT

The increasing use of patient-administered oral anticancer drugs is paralleled by new challenges in maintaining treatment adherence. These challenges are particularly significant with adjuvant therapies for prevention of disease recurrence, where the benefits of ongoing treatment are not readily apparent to patients. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants (collectively referred to as advanced practitioners) play integral roles in providing education on disease and treatment to patients that can increase adherence to oral therapies and ideally improve outcomes. For patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), the oral targeted therapy imatinib has become the mainstay of treatment for advanced and recurrent disease and as adjuvant therapy following surgical resection. Recent data indicate significantly improved overall survival with 3 years vs. 1 year of adjuvant imatinib therapy. Continuous dosing with imatinib is needed for optimal efficacy and to limit additional health-care costs associated with management of disease progression in GIST. However, longer duration of therapy increases the risk of nonadherence. Imatinib adherence rates, as well as factors contributing to nonadherence to adjuvant therapy in routine clinical practice, are discussed in this review. Also explored are practical approaches for improving adherence to adjuvant imatinib therapy through greater patient education, in light of the increased duration of therapy in select patients.




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