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About Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors

A gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is a rare cancer that begins in the digestive tract or stomach. GIST is a sarcoma, a type of cancer that begins in the connective tissues of the body. In the case of GIST, the cancer begins in the connective tissues that hold the bowel walls together. Since these tumors behave differently from other gastrointestinal cancers, they require the specialty expertise of a sarcoma doctor to be treated appropriately.

GIST can start anywhere along the digestive tract but most often starts in the stomach and small intestine. GISTs vary in their ability to grow and spread to other organs; knowing which tumors need treatment and which ones do not is an important part of a patient evaluation.

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