Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments


Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is a rare type of cancer that begins in the cells of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This type of cancer mainly affects adults and is more common in people over the age of 50. GISTs can occur anywhere in the GI tract, but the most common sites are the stomach and small intestine. Here, we answer questions about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for GISTs.

What Causes Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors?

The exact cause of GISTs is unknown, but it is thought that they are caused by genetic mutations in certain cells known as KIT and PDGFR-alpha. These mutations can be acquired or inherited.

What Are the Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors?

The most common symptom of GISTs is abdominal pain or discomfort. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and signs of infection such as fever and chills. GISTs can also cause problems with bowel movements and blood loss in the stool.

How Are Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors Diagnosed and Treated?

GISTs are usually diagnosed through imaging tests such as a CT scan, MRI, or endoscopy. In some cases, a biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

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The treatment for GISTs depends on the size and location of the tumor. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the tumor. In other cases, medications such as imatinib can be used to slow or stop the growth of the tumor. Radiation and chemotherapy may also be used to treat GISTs.

Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors and Your Health

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of GISTs and seek medical advice if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve your chances of recovery. It is also important to follow your doctor’s instructions and take all medications as prescribed.

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Finally, if you are at risk for GISTs due to certain family medical history, it is important to discuss this with your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend lifestyle changes and preventive measures to help reduce your risk of developing GISTs.

Keywords: Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST), KIT, PDGFR-alpha, abdominal pain, fever, CT scan, MRI, endoscopy, imatinib, radiation, chemotherapy, preventive measures.

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