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Imatinib Side Effects

For the Consumer

Applies to imatinib: oral capsule, oral tablet

Along with its needed effects, imatinib 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
  • Abdominal or stomach pain, cramping, burning, or tenderness
  • bleeding from wound after surgery
  • bleeding gums
  • bleeding problems
  • bloating or swelling of the face, hands, lower legs, or feet
  • blood in the urine
  • bloody eye
  • bloody nose
  • blue lips and fingernails
  • blurred vision
  • body aches or pain
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • chills
  • clay-colored stools
  • cough
  • coughing that sometimes produces a pink frothy sputum
  • coughing up blood
  • decrease in the amount of urine
  • decreased appetite
  • decreased urination
  • diarrhea
  • difficult or labored breathing
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • ear congestion
  • fever
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • headache
  • inability to speak
  • increased menstrual flow or vaginal bleeding
  • increased thirst
  • irregular heartbeat
  • itching or skin rash
  • joint pain
  • large, flat, blue, or purplish patches on the skin
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of voice
  • mood changes
  • muscle aches and pain
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea and vomiting
  • noisy, rattling breathing
  • nosebleed
  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pale skin
  • prolonged bleeding from cuts
  • rapid weight gain
  • red, black, bloody, or tarry stools
  • red or dark brown urine
  • redness of the eye
  • seizures
  • shivering
  • slurred speech
  • small red or purple spots on the skin
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • sweating
  • swelling in the legs and ankles
  • swollen glands
  • temporary blindness
  • tightness in the chest
  • trouble sleeping
  • troubled breathing at rest
  • troubled breathing when moving or walking
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
  • weakness in the arm or leg on one side of the body, sudden and severe
  • yellow eyes or skin
Incidence not known
  • Anxiety
  • blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • change in vision not present before treatment
  • chest pain, possibly moving to the left arm, neck, or shoulder
  • confusion
  • delayed or slow growth in children
  • irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • nausea, heartburn, or indigestion, severe and continuing
  • pain in the bones
  • red, irritated eyes
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • seeing floaters, veil, or curtain appearing across part of vision
  • severe abdominal or stomach pain, cramping, or burning
  • severe constipation
  • severe vomiting
  • tenderness, pain, swelling, warmth, skin discoloration, and prominent superficial veins over affected area

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
  • Acid or sour stomach
  • belching
  • difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
  • difficulty with moving
  • discouragement
  • excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
  • fear or nervousness
  • feeling sad or empty
  • feeling unusually cold
  • full or bloated feeling
  • increased bowel movements
  • irritability
  • lack or loss of strength
  • loose stools
  • loss of interest or pleasure
  • muscle stiffness
  • night sweats
  • passing gas
  • stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
  • swollen joints
  • trouble concentrating
  • weight loss
Less common
  • Back pain
  • bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
  • change in taste
  • watering of the eyes

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 and 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): Fatigue (39%), pyrexia (18%), fluid retention/edema
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]


1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

3. "Product Information. Gleevec (imatinib mesylate)." Novartis Pharmaceuticals, East Hanover, NJ.

Some side effects of imatinib may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.