A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology found that the use of adjuvant systemic therapy with imatinib for GIST has increased significantly over time, and that patients treated with the therapy have better survival rates than those treated with surgery alone.

Since the discovery of imatanib (Gleevec), treatment for gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) has changed, as studies have shown that those being treated with Gleevec have better survival statistics than those who undergo surgery alone. Therefore, the use of imatinib as a treatment modality for GIST has increased.

Parameters and Findings of Study

The study, led by researchers from the American Cancer Society, analyzed data from the National Cancer Data Base, reviewing 4,694 patients with localized GIST who had been diagnosed between 2004 and 2011.

Led by Dr. Helmneh Sineshaw, MD, MPH, the researchers discovered that the use of adjuvant therapy had increased by more than double between 2006 and 2011, with a decrease in 2011.

Findings indicate that patients who underwent adjuvant treatment had a 46 percent lower risk of death than those treated with surgery alone.

A summary of the study can be found here.

Prior Study by LRG Research Team Member

A randomized clinical trial led by Dr. Chris Corless, member of the LRG Research Team, found that one year of adjuvant imatinib was able to prolong recurrence free survival after resection of a primary GI stromal tumor (GIST). More about this study can be found Doctor and Patient.

As new treatments develop for GIST, it will be vital to continue these types of studies to help physicians and patients in their treatment decision-making process.

It will be important to identify populations who are not being treated with these lifesaving drugs, and to find ways to disseminate this information to them.

Mary Garland
Author: Mary Garland