In a recent article in the May 2015 edition of the European Journal of Cancer, Heikki Joensuu, one of the foremost authorities on adjuvant treatment for GIST, discussed how follow-up treatment is currently performed for GIST patients and how that perhaps differs from what is optimal.
In most cases, GIST patients receive regular scans early on in their treatment, every 3-6 months or so, and then this frequency tapers off after a few years, even if they discontinue Gleevec. The frequency and timing of scans often does not vary regardless of the patient’s risk of recurrence.
In the article, which looked at strategies both for patients who were and were not treated with Gleevec after surgery, Joensuu instead recommends that the frequency and timing of scans should be tied to the patient’s risk of recurrence, that the frequency of scans should increase after discontinuation of Gleevec, and follow-up should continue for up to ten years for high-risk patients (Five years for those of low and intermediate risk). An abstract of the article can be accessed here.
Earlier study on timing of CT scans for GIST patients
An earlier study by Joensuu published in 2014 details the mathematical model used to adjust the timing of CT scans with the risk of cancer recurrence.
More information on imaging techniques can be viewed here.
It is important to discuss these recommendations with your GIST specialist to determine the appropriate imaging schedule based on your individual history.