Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor: Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment

The gastrointestinal stromal tumor is a condition caused due to the replacement of normal cells with abnormal cells, which causes abnormal tissues in the gastrointestinal tract. These are the most common type of mesenchymal cancer of the gastrointestinal tract. These types of tumor are rare kind of sarcoma that is found in the gastrointestinal tract. These tumors usually start either in the stomach or in the smaller intestine. Rarely they are found elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract and sometimes it is also found in the intra-abdominal soft tissues.

The gastrointestinal stromal tumor usually runs in the family.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Blood in the stool and sometimes in vomiting too.
  • Severe stomach-ache.
  • Sense of abdominal fullness, stomach feels full even after eating small portions.
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Rarely intestinal obstruction is also seen.
  • Somnolence

The gastrointestinal stromal tumor is usually found sporadically. According to a survey, less than 5% of cases were reported, where this condition ran in families. The cause of the gastrointestinal stromal tumor is usually idiopathic. However, genetic causes have been strongly associated with the gastrointestinal stromal tumor.

Risk factors

The people who are at higher risk of being affected by gastrointestinal stromal tumor are:

  • Cases of the gastrointestinal stromal tumor are more common in adults between 50 to 80 years, and it rarely affects people who are less than 40 years.
  • People with close biological relatives having this condition are at higher risk of developing it.
  • People with Carney-Stratakis syndrome, which is a rare inherited disease are at higher risk of developing this condition. Young people are who are having this syndrome tend to develop a gastrointestinal stromal tumor in their teens itself.
  • People having Neurofibromatosis, which is usually inherited, sometimes idiopathic too, often causes tumor formation. People suffering from this ailment are at higher risk of developing a gastrointestinal stromal tumor.

Diagnostic methods

This condition is usually diagnosed by the following methods:

  • Medical history
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Endoscopic ultrasonography
  • Biopsy
  • Physical examination.
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Metastasis of cancer especially to the liver
  • Hemorrhage in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Severe Anaemia
  • Loss if weight
Lifestyle tips to avoid developing gastrointestinal stromal tumor
  • Maintain healthy body weight.
  • Avoid smoking tobacco.
  • Eat healthy food.
  • Know about your family’s medical history.
  • Avoid stress.


Treatment is usually based on two factors:

  • If the tumor has to be removed surgically.
  • Is the tumor had started to metastasis.

These two factors help to find the best method of treatment that could be followed. The specialist will suggest either of the methods:

  • Surgical removal of the tumor.
  • Administration of certain drugs to destroy the oncogenic cell before surgery. This procedure helps to shrink the tumor cells so that the tumor is removed easily through surgery.
  • Administration of certain drugs after surgical removal of the tumor based on the study of the mitotic count and size of the tumor, which is usually recommended after surgical removal of the tumor.

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