Pharmacy Clinical Pearl of the Day: Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors

Small GISTs may cause no symptoms and may grow so slowly that they have no serious effects.

Clinical Pearl of the Day: Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are soft tissue sarcomas located in any part of the digestive system.

Insight:

  • Their most common sites are the stomach and small intestine.
  • GISTs start in specialized nerve cells located in the walls of the digestive system. These cells are part of the autonomic nervous system.
  • A specific change in the DNA of any of these cells, which control digestive processes such as movement of food through the intestines, gives rise to a GIST.
  • Small GISTs may cause no symptoms and may grow so slowly that they have no serious effects.
  • People with larger GISTs usually seek medical attention when they vomit blood or pass blood in their stool due to rapid bleeding from the tumor.
  • Diagnosis starts with upper endoscopy, ultrasound, laboratory tests and biopsy, CT-scan.
  • Treatment starts with surgery, targeted drug therapy, with medications such as imatinib (Gleevac) and others.

Sources:

Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) - Overview - Mayo Clinic

gist image - Google Search