While these therapies are highly effective, they are not a cure. Many patients require regular blood transfusions and some need bone marrow transplants. The only definitive option for a cure is a stem cell transplant, which in itself is a risky procedure.
Gleevec received FDA approval in May 2001. In the same month it made the cover of TIME magazine as the "magic bullet" to cure cancer. The doctors who developed it received the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award in 2009 for "converting a fatal cancer into a manageable chronic condition".
Patients around the world found it challenging to keep on top of the changes brought on by the use of this new type of cancer treatment, and rapidly went online for support. Through new changes in technology that make language translation easier then ever before, patients are now able to freely share information and provide support bypassing barriers that used to confine them to their own countries and languages.
The global CML Advocates Network was formed as a virtual network designed, published and moderated by CML patients and caregivers who are registered patient group advocates and organizers. The group now connects 51 organizations from 43 countries across all continents.
The value and pioneering nature of the work done by the CML Advocates Network was recognized in China in August when the group received the 2010 European School of Oncology Cancer on The Internet Award at the World Cancer Congress.
The chairman and director of Israel’s CML patient advocacy group, Giora Sharf, noted the significance of the award. “Social media networks offer patients, survivors, relatives and friends the means to connect with others, share information, experiences and insights, explore fears, identify resources, find support and generate better informed decisions. They provide empowerment to the cancer patient community. CML is a rare cancer which affects only 1.5 (people) in 100,000 population. Because of the low incidence, very often local support groups do not exist and existing groups are often under-resourced.