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Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) Specialist

Wellness Oncology & Hematology

Oncologists & Hematologists located in West Hills, CA & Tarzana, CA

A gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is a form of cancer that in some cases isn’t a cause for immediate alarm, but if it’s large or bleeding, then prompt treatment is advisable. Before your symptoms worsen, visit the highly qualified team of oncologists at Wellness Oncology & Hematology in West Hills and Tarzana, California, for an accurate diagnosis and assessment. Their specialist physicians have considerable experience with GIST, so call Wellness Oncology & Hematology today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.

Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) Q & A

What is a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)?

A gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is a growth in your digestive system that most commonly occurs in the stomach and small intestine.

The tumor forms from nerve cells within the walls of your digestive tract that help with digestion. Changes in the cell DNA makes the cells mutate, growing rapidly and uncontrollably.

Anyone could develop GISTs, but they hardly ever affect anyone under 40, and most often occur in people between the ages of 50 and 70. There is an inherited genetic mutation that can cause GISTs, but this is very rare.

What symptoms do GISTs cause?

Small GISTs might not cause any symptoms, and often GISTS grow so slowly they don’t have any significant adverse effects. Larger GISTs that start bleeding can cause you to vomit blood or pass blood when you have a bowel movement.

Other possible symptoms of GIST include:

  • Anemia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty swallowing

You might be able to feel the growth when you press on your abdomen.

How is a GIST diagnosed?

The team at Wellness Oncology & Hematology does a physical exam and looks at your medical history, and if they suspect a GIST you have further tests, which could include:

Contrast-enhanced computerized tomography (CT) scan

Contrast-enhanced CT is just like a regular CT scan, but you swallow or have an injection of a special liquid first that shows up on the X-rays. This helps the team to see where the tumor is and how large it is.

Upper endoscopy

A minimally invasive procedure in which your provider passes a piece of equipment called an endoscope down your throat that has a light and a camera on it. The endoscope sends back pictures of the inside of your stomach and the top of your small intestine and allows your provider to take a tissue sample.

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)

Similar to an endoscopy but with the addition of an ultrasound probe. An EUS helps assess the depth of the GIST, and whether it’s spreading into other tissues or organs.

Fine-needle aspiration biopsy

A similar procedure to the EUS, but your provider uses a thin, hollow needle to remove samples of tissue. These samples are tested at the lab to confirm a diagnosis of GIST.

How is a GIST treated?

Large GISTs and those that are causing symptoms need to be surgically removed whenever possible. It’s sometimes possible to do this laparoscopically, a minimally invasive method that uses small incisions and specialized instruments.

Traditional chemotherapy doesn’t work on GISTs, but other drug therapies can help prevent the cancer from growing and spreading.

Dr. Shaye, Dr. Lashkari, and Dr. Ho can diagnose GIST and start you on a progressive course of treatment, working closely with you to improve your quality of life, while eliminating the cancer cells. Call Wellness Oncology & Hematology today or book online.