What’s new in gastrointestinal stromal tumor research and treatment?
There has been a great deal of progress in recent years, especially in treating gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). As researchers have come to understand the genetic changes that cause these tumors, they’ve been able to use newer treatments to target these changes.
Doctors know targeted treatments like imatinib (Gleevec®) and sunitinib (Sutent®) often work, but they still aren’t sure exactly how and when to give them to make them most effective. Do they help people live longer when given before surgery? Should they be given after surgery to all patients, even those with very small tumors? Should they be given indefinitely, or is there a time period after which they can be stopped? Would sunitinib be as effective as imatinib if it was given first? These questions are now being studied in clinical trials.
Other drugs that target the KIT or PDGFRA proteins are also being studied for use against GISTs. Some of these, such as sorafenib (Nexavar®), nilotinib (Tasigna®), dasatinib (Sprycel®), and pazopanib (Votrient™), are already being used to treat other types of cancer. Other new targeted drugs, such as masitinib, are being tested as well. People with GISTs that are no longer responding to standard treatments may want to ask their doctor about clinical trials of these newer targeted therapies.
Last Medical Review: 12/11/2012
Last Revised: 02/26/2013