Can Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors Be Found Early?

Screening is testing for diseases like cancer in people who do not have any symptoms. Screening tests can find some types of cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be effective. But at this time, no effective screening tests have been found for gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), so routine testing of people without any symptoms is not recommended.

Many GISTs are found because of symptoms a person is having, but some GISTs may be found early by chance. Sometimes they are seen on an exam for another problem, like during colonoscopy to look for colon cancer. Rarely, a GIST may be seen when an imaging test, like a computed tomography (CT) scan or barium study, is done for another reason. Some GISTs may also be found incidentally (unexpectedly) during abdominal surgery for another problem.

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Casali PG, Dei Tos AP, Gronchi A. Chapter 55: Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.

National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors Treatment. 2017. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/soft-tissue-sarcoma/hp/gist-treatment-pdq on April 17, 2017.

Last Medical Review: May 17, 2017 Last Revised: May 17, 2017

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