Help GIST patients
GastroIntestinal Stromal Tumor
What GIST is
GIST is a rare type of sarcoma that is found in the digestive system, most often in the wall of the stomach. Some GISTS are benign (not cancerous) but they can become cancerous if not treated. Generally speaking, the larger the GIST, the more likely it is to be cancerous.
These tumours do have a rather complicated name. They are found in the digestive system - the gastrointestinal tract. They develop from cells of connective tissues that control the movements of the gut. The tissues that support body organs are called the 'stroma', so that's where the stromal bit comes from. Cancers of connective tissues are 'sarcomas'. So the full name is gastrointestinal stromal sarcoma.
About 6 out of 10 of these tumours grow in the stomach, but they can crop up anywhere in the digestive system, for example in the bowel or oesophagus. Very rarely, they develop outside the gastrointestinal tract.
These tumours are most common occur in people between 50 and 70 years old. We don't really know the cause but there is a condition called neurofibromatosis (NF), which can increase the risk of developing it. Rarely, GIST can develop in children, but there are only about 20 cases a year in the UK.
1. We want to support cancer research, particularly GIST.