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, there are no effective screening tests 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 a colonoscopy to look for colorectal cancer. Rarely, a GIST may be seen on an imaging test, like a computed tomography (CT) scan, that 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 60: Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2019.

Morgan J, Raut CP, Duensing A, Keedy VL. Epidemiology, classification, clinical presentation, prognostic features, and diagnostic work-up of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). UpToDate. 2019. Accessed at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/epidemiology-classification-clinical-presentation-prognostic-features-and-diagnostic-work-up-of-gastrointestinal-stromal-tumors-gist on October 14, 2019.

National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors Treatment. 2018. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/soft-tissue-sarcoma/hp/gist-treatment-pdq on October 14, 2019.

Last Medical Review: December 1, 2019 Last Revised: December 1, 2019

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