What Are Common Treatments for GIST Tumors?


Quick Answer

Common treatment options for GIST tumors include surgery, targeted therapy, watchful waiting and supportive care, notes the National Cancer Institute. Surgery is an option for patients with localized tumors.

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Full Answer

Some GIST tumor surgeries are performed laparoscopically, explains the National Cancer Institute. Small incisions are made on the abdomen, a laparoscope and other instruments are inserted into the incisions and the tumor is removed with some surrounding tissue. Targeted therapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells that cannot be removed with surgery. Commonly used medications belong to a class of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors and include imatinib mesylate and sunitinib.

Supportive care is provided for patients with treatment side effects and large, spreading tumors, states the National Cancer Institute. The goal of supportive care is the improvement of quality of life and includes the treatment of symptoms, side effects and psychological, social or spiritual problems.

A GIST tumor is a gastrointestinal stromal tumor formed from abnormal cells in the gastrointestinal tract, according to the National Cancer Institute. Symptoms include feeling very tired, bloody stool or vomit, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing and a feeling of early fullness. GIST tumors are detected with a thorough medical history and physical exam, CT scan, MRI, endoscopic ultrasonography and biopsy.

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