Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)
About Gastrointestinal Tumors
A gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is a type of soft-tissue sarcoma. While they can appear anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, they are most commonly found in the small intestine and the stomach. GISTs start in certain nerve cells in the lining of the digestive system. These cells are part of the autonomic nervous system and control various digestive processes, like moving food through the GI tract.
Gastrointestinal tumors are more common in those between the ages of 50 and 70, almost never occurring in people younger than 40. However, they can still potentially happen in people of any age.
Causes and Risk Factors
Much like other forms of cancer, gastrointestinal tumors are caused by mutations to your DNA that result in cancer cells growing out of control. This eventually results in growths, or tumors, that may spread to other parts of the body. The exact cause of this mutation is not currently known or understood.
While heredity may play a role in developing cancer cells in the GI tract, most GISTs are sporadic, meaning that they are not inherited. Certain inherited genetic syndromes may contribute to your risk of developing GISTs. Primary familial GIST syndrome leads to an increased risk of gastrointestinal tumors and may result in GISTs developing at a younger age than usual. Carney-Stratakis syndrome and neurofibromatosis type 1 may also increase the risk of developing gastrointestinal tumors.
There are otherwise very few known risk factors for gastrointestinal tumors. As mentioned, age may play a role as gastrointestinal tumors are more common in people older than the age of 50.
Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging
Smaller gastrointestinal tumors generally cause no symptoms and may grow so slowly that they don’t present any serious effects. Larger GISTs are usually noticeable when a patient vomits blood or has blood in their stool. Other common signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal tumors include:
- Abdominal pain
- A noticeable growth in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unintended weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Problems with swallowing
If you feel like you, or a loved one you know, is experiencing any other these symptoms, please contact your trusted physician who can diagnose this disease promptly.
Diagnosing gastrointestinal tumors starts with questions about your medical history and a general physical exam to check for growths in the abdomen. From there, your doctor may perform imaging scans, like a CT scan or endoscopy, to get a better visual of your gastrointestinal tract. Your doctor may also order a biopsy, which is the best way to know for sure if an abnormal area is a GIST.
Following a positive diagnosis, the doctor will proceed to the staging process. The stage determines if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and helps the doctor determine the best course of action. Staging for gastrointestinal tumors involves the TNM system along with stages ranging from I to IV. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread.
About Alternative Treatment for Gastrointestinal Tumors
Though chemotherapy and other typical clinical treatments are common when treating cancer cells, GISTs do not respond to chemotherapy. Therefore, surgery and targeted drug therapies are the main modes of treatment. However, these treatments are physically exhausting and come with a variety of negative side effects. Alternative cancer therapy on the other hand, offers a gentle, effective method for treating cancer without the risk of side effects or harming your immune system.
Immunity Therapy Center is a cancer treatment center dedicated to providing customized alternative treatment plans for gastrointestinal cancer. We work with you one-on-one to develop treatment options and create positive relationships that will support your healing process. We want to help you to fight this disease without the harshness of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Contact us to learn more and to receive your custom treatment plan.
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