How you manage and treat your GIST is dependent on a number of factors, including the type of GIST you have, the type of mutation, the tumor location, the risk of recurrence, and whether or not you have metastatic disease.
Monitoring your GIST
It is important to monitor GIST progression through imaging techniques. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), Computed Tomography (CT) scans and Positron emission tomography (PET) scans have roles to play in the long-term surveillance of GIST, as well as determining response to drug treatments.Proper use and interpretation of scans is vital for effective GIST treatment. Read more about monitoring your GIST through scans, CTs, and MRIs.
Managing the side effects of drug treatments for GIST is vital to a patient’s quality of life. Read more about MANAGING YOUR SIDE EFFECTS. Drugs also affect how food and vitamins are used and absorbed into your system. See proper nutrition for GIST patients. Our Coping with GIST section addresses many issues GIST patients face.
Additional information to help manage GIST
Each GIST patient is different. They have different stages of disease, different subtypes of GIST, different tolerability of drugs, different sizes and ages, and many other differences. It is important for you to understand how your situation is different from other patients. Individualizing treatment for each patient may prevent unnecessary treatment, reduce toxicities from treatment and improve outcomes.
Either during or before surgery, your doctors will obtain a small amount of tissue (a biopsy) for further testing. This tissue will help determine if your tumor is cancer, what type of cancer it is and, in the case of GIST, the risk of a recurrence after surgery.
Additional testing – mutational testing – usually done at specialty centers, can determine the type of GIST that you have. Other tests include specialized stains to determine or rule out the possibility of having a subtype of GIST known as pediatric-like GIST or SDH-deficient GIST. A mutational test can also give you important information about how you will respond to drugs, including determining dosage for Gleevec, the first-line drug treatment.