Management of gastrointestinal stromal tumors in the era of tyrosine kinase inhibitors
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Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) represent the most common type of mesenchymal malignancy in the gastrointestinal tract. With the discovery of uncontrolled KIT tyrosine kinase signaling as a critical component in the pathogenesis of this disease, the diagnostic and treatment options for patients with GIST have evolved rapidly. Pathology review by an experienced pathologist is critical to the classification of this disease. Expert and definitive surgery remains the mainstay of treatment in patients with localized, resectable disease. Imatinib mesylate has been shown to be the first successful systemic therapy for patients with metastatic or unresectable disease and has revolutionized the treatment of this often rapidly progressive and fatal disease. Ongoing studies are evaluating the role of imatinib in the preoperative and postsurgical adjuvant settings. Although resistance to imatinib will appear over time, there is reason for optimism that the mechanisms of resistance will be identified and eventually overcome. The application of molecular understanding of GIST to the development of a selective, scientifically rational therapy is a classic example of multidisciplinary translational oncology research.
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References and Recommended Reading
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