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Norris Cotton Cancer Center
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Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)

What is GIST?

These rare tumors start in very early forms of cells in the wall of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, also known as the digestive tract. Although GISTs can be found anywhere in the digestive tract, most are found in the stomach. These tumors start in very early forms of special cells in the part of the nervous system that regulates body processes such as digesting food.

More than half of GISTs start in the stomach. Most of the others start in the small intestine, but GISTs can start anywhere along the GI tract. Some GISTs are more likely to spread to other parts of the body than others. Your doctors will look at factors that are unique to you, such as how large the tumor is, where it's located in the GI tract, and how fast the tumor cells are dividing.

More information about GIST (American Cancer Society) 

What GIST is not:

GIST are gastrointestinal cancers that begin in cells in the wall of the digestive tract. They should not be confused with other gastrointestinal cancers such as stomach, liver, pancreas, neuroendocrine or colorectal because these cancers can have different symptoms, outlooks, and treatments.

Diagnosis

It’s possible that you could have one or more of the following tests (but not all of these will apply to your condition):

  • Imaging (CT scan)
  • Endoscopy
  • Possible needle biopsy
  • Physical exam

Treatment

Depending on your unique set of conditions, your treatment could include one or more of the following treatments (but not all of these will apply to your condition):

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery

Your full team of care providers will work closely together to review your diagnostic tests, identify the best course of treatment particular to you, and help you understand your diagnosis and what to expect with any treatment you have.

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