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Symptoms and Signs of Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors

Doctor's Notes on Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are abnormal connective tissue cells in the GI tract that can form masses (tumors) that are benign or cancerous. About 70% occur in the stomach, 20% in the small intestine and 10% in the large bowel. Signs and symptoms include blood (red or dark colored) in the stool and/or vomit, abdominal pains (possibly severe), feeling very tired, difficulty swallowing and feeling full after eating a small amount of food.

GISTs are caused by abnormal connective tissue cell growth in the GI tract but the underlying causes that trigger the development of the abnormal cells is not known. GISTs may be due to abnormal genes or part of a genetic syndrome like neurofibromatosis type 1 or Carney triad (3 different neoplasms in one person, usually found in young women). Rarely, GISTs can be found in several members of the same family.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.