Sprycel vs Gleevec – Uses, Side Effects, Dosage, Differences


It is the brand name of a drug called dasatinib that belongs to the class of drugs known as protein-tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

This medication is used to treat a certain type of chronic myeloid leukemia as a first treatment and in patients who can no longer benefit from other leukemia drugs including imatinib (a form of biological therapy called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor) or in sufferers who cannot take these drugs because of side effects.

It works by blocking tyrosine kinases (chemical messengers) that send signals to cells to grow. This stops the cancerous cells from growing and increasing in number. This medication was first approved for medical use in the United States by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2006.


It is typically used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes) and chronic myeloid leukemia (a type of cancer of the white blood cells) when other cancer medications have not been effective.

Also, this medication is used to treat children who have – Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in the chronic phase.


The usual recommended dose in adults is 100 mg administered orally once per day. It can be taken without or with a meal, either in the evening or in the morning. Tablets should be swallowed whole and should not be cut, crushed, or chewed.

Note – do not take drugs which neutralize stomach acids 2 hours after or within 2 hours before taking this medication. It is not recommended for use in patients under 18 years of age. It is recommended that you take the treatment either in the evenings or in the mornings. Take this drug at the same time of day each day.

Side Effects And Precautions Of Dasatinib

Common side effects may include:

  • breathing problems;
  • blood cell disorders;
  • tiredness;
  • diarrhea;
  • headaches;
  • mild skin rash;
  • nausea.

Rare side effects may include:

  • pain;
  • a cough;
  • poor appetite;
  • upper respiratory tract infection;
  • dizziness;
  • abdominal pain;
  • unexplained weight loss;
  • vomiting;
  • chest pain;
  • generalized weakness;
  • arrhythmia;
  • mouth sores;
  • pneumonia;
  • itching;
  • chills;
  • tingling in hands or feet;
  • low calcium blood levels;
  • low phosphorus blood levels;
  • constipation.

To make sure that this medication is safe for you, tell your healthcare provider if you have:

  • liver disease, like – hepatitis B infection;
  • a weak immune system;
  • if you are pregnant or breastfeeding;
  • heart disease;
  • a personal history of Long QT syndrome, a condition that affects repolarization of the heart after a heartbeat;
  • lung disease;
  • low levels of magnesium in the blood;
  • low levels of potassium in the blood;
  • an allergic reaction to any type of medicine;
  • an unusual heart rhythm;
  • a heart condition;
  • an infection.

Furthermore, tell your doctor if you are taking or using any other medicines, including – prescription and nonprescription medicines as well as complementary and herbal medicines. Also, avoid consuming grapefruit and grapefruit juice because it may interact with this medication and lead to unwanted side effects.

Because this drug could harm the unborn baby, do not use it if you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant.


It is the brand name of a drug called imatinib that works by affecting tyrosine kinase enzymes which play a role in certain cancer cells. It is the 1st member of a new class of medications which act by inhibiting these enzymes, instead of non-specifically inhibiting rapidly dividing cells.


It is typically used to treat bone marrow disorders, certain types of leukemia (blood cancer), and skin cancer. The term “leukemia” refers to cancers of the white blood cells. Unlike other cancers, it does not produce a tumor, however, it results in the overproduction of abnormal white blood cells.

In the US, every year more than 63,000 people are expected to receive a diagnosis of blood cancer. Common symptoms of leukemia may include:

  • fevers or night sweats;
  • pain in the joints or bones;
  • loss of appetite;
  • weight loss;
  • swollen lymph nodes which typically don’t hurt;
  • swelling of the abdomen;
  • frequent infections;
  • bruising easily;
  • feeling weak.

The causes of leukemia are not entirely known, nevertheless, a few factors have been identified that may increase the risk, like:

  • exposure to high levels of radiation;
  • a family history of leukemia;
  • exposure to chemicals, like – benzene;
  • previous treatment for cancer with radiation or chemotherapy;
  • blood disorders, like – myelodysplastic syndrome;
  • genetic disorders, like – Down syndrome;
  • smoking tobacco and secondhand smoking.


The prescribed dose should be administered orally, with a large glass of water or a meal. The usual recommended dose is 400 mg or 600 mg once per day or a dose of 800 mg twice per day.

Side Effects And Precautions Of Imatinib

Common side effects may include:

  • muscle pain;
  • diarrhea;
  • stomach pain;
  • skin rash;
  • feeling tired;
  • vomiting;
  • nausea.

Rare side effects may include:

  • sudden weight gain;
  • swelling around the eyes;
  • chest pain;
  • swelling of the hands, ankles, feet, or lower legs;
  • blood in the stool;
  • shortness of breath;
  • a sore throat;
  • pounding heartbeat;
  • abdominal pain;
  • coughing up bloody mucus;
  • excessive tiredness;
  • chills;
  • fever;
  • unusual bruising;
  • yellowing of the eyes or skin;
  • blistering, peeling, or shedding skin;
  • increased urination, particularly at night.

To make sure that this medication is safe for you, tell your healthcare professional if you have ever had:

  • kidney disease;
  • liver disease, particularly hepatitis B;
  • a stomach ulcer or bleeding;
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus;
  • congestive heart failure;
  • chemotherapy;
  • heart disease;
  • recent or upcoming thyroid surgery;
  • underactive thyroid.

Sprycel vs Gleevec – Differences

Sprycel (active ingredient – dasatinib) is a cancer drug that slows the growth and spread of cancer cells in the human body which are responsible for the uncontrolled growth of leukemia cells. It belongs to a group of medications called kinase inhibitors.

Gleevec (active ingredient – imatinib) is a drug that interferes with the growth of some cancer cells. It belongs to a family of drugs called protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It is typically used to treat adults and children/adolescents who have acute lymphoblastic leukemia with Philadelphia chromosome-positive and chronic myeloid leukemia.

Image credit – Shutterstock & Getty

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