Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST)

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Treating Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) TOPICS

Radiation therapy for gastrointestinal stromal tumor

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays (or particles) to kill cancer cells. Radiation is not very effective in gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), so it is not used often. But it can be used to relieve symptoms like bone pain.

Before your treatment starts, the radiation team will take careful measurements to determine the correct angles for aiming the radiation beams and the proper dose of radiation. Radiation therapy is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is much stronger. The procedure itself is painless. The treatment lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time — getting you into place for treatment — usually takes longer. Radiation may be given for several days in a row.

Depending on where the radiation therapy is aimed, side effects may include skin changes resembling sunburn or suntan, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue. Often these go away after a short while. Talk with your doctor about the potential side effects and the ways to reduce or relieve them.

Last Medical Review: 12/11/2012
Last Revised: 02/26/2013