Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs): Focus on histopathological diagnosis and biomolecular features

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Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are mesenchymal tumors of the gastrointestinal tract that are believed to originate from a neoplastic transformation of the intestinal pacemaker cells (interstitial cells of Cajal) normally found in the bowel wall or their precursors. Although the microscopic features have been known for a long time, the defining characteristic of GIST is the presence of the cell-surface antigen CD117 (KIT), which is demonstrated by immunohistochemistry. KIT, which is a growth factor transmembrane receptor, is the product of the proto-oncogene c-kit (chromosome 4). Surgical removal remains the only curative treatment for patients with GISTs. Tumor size, mitotic index, anatomic location, tumor rupture and disease-free interval are the classic characteristics used to predict the clinical course of patients who undergo complete gross resection. Most GISTs express constitutively activated mutant isoforms of KIT or kinase platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRA) that are potential therapeutic targets for imatinib mesylate. Imatinib mesylate is a rationally designed, molecularly specific oral anticancer agent that selectively inhibits several protein tyrosine kinases central to the pathogenesis of human cancer and which has demonstrated remarkable clinical efficacy in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia and malignant GISTs. More recently Sunitinib, a new KIT/PDGFRA kinase inhibitor, has been tested in patients with GIST resistant to imatinib, with promising results. © 2007 European Society for Medical Oncology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)vi136-vi140
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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