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Background: Imatinib has become first line therapy in chronic myeloid leukemia patients. Little is known about the infective consequences during the treatment with this drug in large series of chronic phase patients.
Material and methods: From January 2001 to September 2006 we treated with imatinib 250 patients in first line (early CP) or after interferon failure (late CP), out of clinical trials and recorded all the bacterial and viral infections occurred.
Results: We recorded a similar incidence of bacterial and viral infections both in first line and late CP patients (respectively, 16% and 13%) during 3.5 years of follow-up. Analysis of presenting features predisposing to infections revealed differences only in late CP patients, with elevated percentage of high Sokal risk patients and a more longer median time from diagnosis to start of imatinib.
Conclusions: Opportunistic infections and reactivation of Herpes Zoster are observed during imatinib therapy at very low incidence.