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Ibrutinib: A New Targeted Therapy for Hematologic Cancers

Caroline R. Smithson
Susan M. Schneider
CJON 2015, 19(3), E47-E51 DOI: 10.1188/15.CJON.E47-E51

Background: Hematologic cancers can occur from the overactivity of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, a proto-oncogene in blood cell maturation. Ibrutinib, a new oral targeted therapy drug, is the first agent that binds to the Bruton’s tyrosine kinases and inhibits overgrowth of B cells. In blocking this overgrowth, ibrutinib has been shown to achieve lengthy remissions for patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Remissions are highly valued in these cancers; cure is rare in MCL, and CLL is incurable.

Objectives: This article reviews ibrutinib, its risks and benefits, and the role that oncology nurses play in educating patients and promoting drug adherence.

Methods: A comprehensive review of the literature was conducted using key words such as ibrutinib, mantle cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, tyrosine kinase inhibitor, and oral chemotherapy.

Findings: Ibrutinib has been shown to be well tolerated, with manageable, low-grade toxicities compared to traditional cytotoxic agents. For all patients with a hematologic cancer, but particularly for the large proportion of older adults affected by hematologic malignancies, ibrutinib provides a new treatment option with a low toxicity profile.

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