Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors
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NORD is very grateful to Margaret von Mehren, MD, Associate Member of the Department of Medical Oncology and Director of the Sarcoma Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center for assistance in the preparation of this report.
Synonyms of Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors
- No subdivisions found.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) belong to a group of cancers known as soft tissue sarcomas. The number of new cases in the United States annually has been estimated to be 5,000-6,000. Tumors usually arise from the intestinal tract with the most common site being the stomach, followed by the small intestine, and the colon/rectum with rare cases arising in the esophagus. There are also tumors that appear to arise in the membranous tissue lining the wall of the stomach (peritoneum) or in a fold of such membranous tissue (the omentum). There are also case reports of tumors arising in the appendix and/or pancreas. These tumors most commonly present with abdominal pain, bleeding or signs of intestinal obstruction. They spread most commonly to sites within the abdominal cavity and to the liver, although there are rare cases of spread to the lungs and bone. GIST results from a change in one of two genes, KIT or PDGFR, which leads to continued growth and division of tumor cells. There are a few reported cases of families in which a gene mutation is inherited; however, the majority of tumors are sporadic and not inherited.
Treatment is with surgery. Patients who have disease that has spread are treated with surgery when possible and with imatinib mesylate (Gleevec, Glivec), a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that inhibits the KIT or PDGFR responsible for tumor growth. Ongoing studies are testing to see if imatinib mesylate can delay or prevent recurrence of GIST after the tumor has been removed (resection). Standard chemotherapy is not effective for this type of sarcoma, with a less than 5% response rate. The role of imatinib mesylate in pediatric GIST is being studied at this time.
Organizations related to Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors
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