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Gleevec Side Effects

Generic name: imatinib

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Mar 15, 2024.

Note: This document contains side effect information about imatinib. Some dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Gleevec.

Applies to imatinib: oral tablet.

Serious side effects of Gleevec

Along with its needed effects, imatinib (the active ingredient contained in Gleevec) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking imatinib:

More common

Incidence not known

Other side effects of Gleevec

Some side effects of imatinib may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

Less common

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to imatinib: oral capsule, oral tablet.


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Cerebral hemorrhage, palpitations, tachycardia, congestive heart failure, pulmonary edema, hypertension, peripheral coldness, hypotension, Raynaud's phenomenon, chest pain

Rare (less than 0.1%): Increased intracranial pressure, arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, pericardial effusion

Frequency not reported: Cerebral edema, pericarditis, cardiac tamponade[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Dermatitis/eczema/rash (40%)

Common (1% to 10%): Flushing, pruritus, face edema, dry skin, erythema, alopecia, night sweats, photosensitivity reaction

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Rash pustular, contusion, sweating increased, urticaria, ecchymosis, increased tendency to bruise, hypotrichosis, skin hypopigmentation, dermatitis exfoliative, onychoclasis, folliculitis, petechiae, psoriasis, purpura, skin hyperpigmentation, bullous eruptions

Rare (less than 0.1%): Acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis (Sweet's syndrome), nail discoloration, angioneurotic edema, rash vesicular, erythema multiforme, leukocytoclastic vasculitis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP)

Frequency not reported: Palmoplantar erythrodysesthesia syndrome, lichenoid keratosis, lichen planus, toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS)[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (50%), diarrhea (45%), abdominal pain (37%), constipation (11%), vomiting, dyspepsia

Common (1% to 10%): Flatulence, abdominal distension, gastroesophageal reflux, dry mouth, gastritis

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Gastroenteritis, stomatitis, mouth ulceration, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, eructation, melena, esophagitis, ascites, gastric ulcer, hematemesis, cheilitis, dysphagia, pancreatitis

Rare (less than 0.1%): Colitis, ileus, inflammatory bowel disease

Frequency not reported: Ileus/intestinal obstruction, gastrointestinal perforation, diverticulitis, gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE)[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Urinary tract infection, gynecomastia, erectile dysfunction, menorrhagia, menstruation irregular, sexual dysfunction, nipple pain, breast enlargement, scrotal edema

Rare (less than 0.1%): Hemorrhagic corpus luteum/hemorrhagic ovarian cyst[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Hemorrhage (29%), neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia

Common (1% to 10%): Pancytopenia, febrile neutropenia, hemorrhage

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Thrombocythemia, lymphopenia, bone marrow depression, eosinophilia, lymphadenopathy, hematoma, subdural hematoma

Rare (less than 0.1%): Hemolytic anemia

Frequency not reported: Thrombosis/embolism[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Increased hepatic enzymes

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hyperbilirubinemia, hepatitis, jaundice

Rare (less than 0.1%): Hepatic failure, hepatic necrosis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Anaphylactic shock[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Influenza (14%)

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Herpes zoster, herpes simplex, cellulitis, sepsis

Rare (less than 0.1%): Fungal infection

Frequency not reported: Hepatitis B reactivation[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Weight gain (16%)

Common (1% to 10%): Anorexia, weight loss

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hypokalemia, increased appetite, hypophosphatemia, dehydration, gout, hyperuricemia, hypercalcemia, hyperglycemia, hyponatremia, blood creatinine increased, blood creatine phosphokinase increased, blood lactate dehydrogenase increased, blood alkaline phosphatase increased

Rare (less than 0.1%): Hyperkalemia, hypomagnesemia, blood amylase increased[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Muscle spasm/cramps (49%), musculoskeletal pain (47%), joint pain (31%), myalgia (24%), bone pain (11%)

Common (1% to 10%): Joint swelling

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Joint and muscle stiffness

Rare (less than 0.1%): Muscular weakness, arthritis, rhabdomyolysis/myopathy

Frequency not reported: Avascular necrosis/hip necrosis, growth retardation in children[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (37%), dizziness (19%)

Common (1% to 10%): Paresthesia, hypoesthesia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Migraine, syncope, peripheral neuropathy, sciatica, restless leg syndrome, tremor, vertigo

Rare (less than 0.1%): Seizures[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Periorbital edema

Common (1% to 10%): Eyelid edema, lacrimation increased, conjunctival hemorrhage, conjunctivitis, dry eye, blurred vision

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Eye irritation, eye pain, orbital edema, scleral hemorrhage, retinal hemorrhage, blepharitis, macular edema

Rare (less than 0.1%): Optic neuritis, cataract, glaucoma, papilledema

Frequency not reported: Vitreous hemorrhage[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Tumor lysis syndrome

Frequency not reported: Tumor hemorrhage, tumor necrosis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Fluid retention/edema (62%, fatigue (39%), pyrexia (18%)

Common (1% to 10%): Taste disturbance, weakness, pyrexia, anasarca, chills, rigors

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Tinnitus, hearing loss, malaise[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Insomnia (15%), depression (15%)

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Anxiety, somnolence, memory impairment

Rare (less than 0.1%): Confusional state[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Renal pain, hematuria, renal failure acute, urinary frequency increased

Frequency not reported: Chronic renal failure[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nasopharyngitis (31%), cough (20%), upper respiratory tract infection (20%), pharyngolaryngeal pain (18%), sinusitis (11%)

Common (1% to 10%): Dyspnea, epistaxis

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Pneumonia, pleural effusion, pharyngitis

Rare (less than 0.1%): Pleuritic pain, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary hemorrhage

Frequency not reported: Acute respiratory failure, interstitial lung disease[Ref]

Frequently asked questions


1. Product Information. Gleevec (imatinib). Novartis Pharmaceuticals. 2022.

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. UK Summary of Product Characteristics.

3. Cerner Multum, Inc. Australian Product Information.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.