Gastrointestinal stromal tumors: report of an audit and review of the literature

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Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), tumors characterized by c-KIT mutations, are the most frequent mesenchymal tumors of the digestive tract. The stomach is the most commonly involved site. Localization, size and mitotic rate are reliable predictors of survival and the two milestones of GISTs treatment are surgery and imatinib. This article is aimed to report the data of an audit, carried out on the morphological and clinical aspects of the disease and to review the present knowledge on GISTs. A total of 172 patients with GISTs (M : F=1 : 1; mean age 65 years) were recruited. The stomach was the most frequently involved site. In 50% of the cases the tumor was smaller than 5 cm, whereas major symptoms were observed in 43% of the cases. Predictors of progressive disease were present only in a small percentage of cases but the disease was in the metastatic phase in over 25% of the cases at diagnosis. Familial aggregation was rare but a consistent share of the patients (21%) had other synchronous or metachronous cancers. The most frequent mutations were in-frame deletions and point mutations of c-KIT exon 11. This report confirms in part the available data on GIST in a consecutive series of patients recruited in Italy and shows that only large collaborative multicenter studies provide data sound enough to enable making reasonable clinical and therapeutic choices, and suggests that, as a measure of secondary prevention, a diagnostic definition should be obtained in all submucosal lesions of the GI tract and that GIST patients should be screened for second tumors.

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