How does this medicine work?

Imatinib (im-at-in-ib) is a chemotherapy medicine that destroys cancer cells by blocking signals that tell the cells to divide.

How should I give it?

Imatinib is given by mouth as a capsule. Give it at the same time each day to keep a steady level in the bloodstream. Your child should be awake and alert when taking any medicine.

For children who cannot swallow pills:

  • Put on gloves.
  • Open the capsule inside a clear plastic bag.
  • Pour the capsule contents by small portions into 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of either apple juice or mineral water. Gently stir after each addition of powder. The active drug is yellow. Make sure all the yellow powder dissolves. Some white powder, which is an inactive ingredient, may remain as a solid.
  • Make sure your child drinks all the liquid. Follow with a large glass of water.
  • Wash spoons and container right after use. Discard the plastic bag and gloves.

Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

Imatinib should be taken with food to prevent stomach upset.

Imatinib can interact with many other medicines. Check with the doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, herbs, or vitamins.

What should I do if a dose is missed?

If a dose is missed, give it as soon as you remember that day. If it is near the time for the next dose, wait until then to take the medicine and skip the missed dose. Never give a double dose.

If your child vomits and the capsule(s) can be seen and counted, repeat the dose with the number of capsules seen. If the dose was taken as a liquid, replace the dose only if vomiting happened right after swallowing and you can see a large amount of yellow drug material. Call the oncology clinic if more than one dose is missed or vomited

What are the side effects?


  • low blood cell counts
  • bleeding, anemia
  • nausea, vomiting
  • heartburn


  • headache
  • stomach pain, cramping
  • muscle aches
  • edema (swelling)
  • rash
  • fever
  • tiredness
  • change in liver function


  • diarrhea
  • trouble swallowing
  • kidney problems

When should I call the clinic?

Call hematology helpline 982403210 if:

  • signs of infection (see below)
  • yellow eyes or skin
  • dark-colored urine
  • rapid weight gain
  • swelling of hands, feet, or ankles
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • signs of allergic reaction:
    • fever or chills
    • rash or hives
    • wheezing
    • trouble breathing – call 112

What else do I need to know?

While your child is receiving chemotherapy, the immune system is compromised, which means it has a decreased ability to fight infection. Watch for signs of infection such as fever, chills, cough, runny nose, or increased fatigue.

Chemotherapy is excreted in the body fluids up to 48 hours after the chemotherapy is given. This could be absorbed through a caregiver’s skin. Wear gloves when handling urine, stool, and vomit while the child is receiving chemotherapy and for 48 hours afterwards. Urine, stool, and vomit can be safely disposed of in septic tanks and sewer systems.

Any clothing or bed linens that are contaminated with urine, stool, or vomit should be washed separately from other laundry in hot water and detergent. Wear gloves when handling contaminated laundry.

Blood samples are needed to check the effects of the medicine. Complete blood counts should be done weekly for the first month, every 2 weeks during the second month, and every 2 to 3 months after that.

You and your child should know the names and doses of all the medicines he or she is taking. It is important to share this information with anyone involved in your child’s care.

Always make sure you have enough medicine on hand as the pharmacy may need 2 or 3 days to refill the prescription. Check the label for the expiration date.
Flush outdated medicines down the toilet instead of putting them in the garbage.

Store all medicines in their original containers and away from direct sunlight or heat. Do not store in humid places such as the bathroom. Keep them out of children’s reach, locked up if possible.

If too much or the wrong kind of chemotherapy medicine is taken, call the clinic immediately.


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call:

Hematology Clinic
3rd floor, Kedar
Opp.Krupa Petrol Pump,
Parimal Garden, Ambawadi
Clinic: 07926463219