Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are tumors that form in the digestive tract — most often the stomach or upper part of the small intestine. GISTs begin in nerve cells that signal your digestive organs to contract, causing food you eat to move through your digestive tract so that it can be digested and processed.

GISTs can form anywhere in the digestive tract, including the:

  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Pancreas
  • Small intestine
  • Appendix
  • Colon
  • Rectum

GISTs can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). Malignant GISTs often spread to the liver.

GIST treatment most often involves surgery and targeted therapy drugs.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) care at Mayo Clinic

Aug. 23, 2017
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  2. Feldman M, et al. Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). In: Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 15, 2016.
  3. Gastrointestinal stromal tumors treatment – Patient version (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/types/soft-tissue-sarcoma/patient/gist-treatment-pdq. Accessed April 15, 2016.
  4. Soft tissue sarcoma. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed April 15, 2016.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs)