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Ann Surg Oncol. 2007 Feb;14(2):526-32. Epub 2006 Dec 2.

Surgical management after neoadjuvant imatinib therapy in gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) with respect to imatinib resistance caused by secondary KIT mutations.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Georg August University, Robert-Koch-Str. 40, 37099, Göttingen, Germany. florian.haller@med.uni-goettingen.de



In metastasized GISTs, resistance to imatinib after initial tumour response has been associated with observation of secondary mutations in the activation loop of KIT. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the tumour response and observance of secondary KIT mutations in a case of GIST undergoing neoadjuvant imatinib therapy.


We report on a case of an initially unresectable gastric GIST with curative resection after 10 months of neoadjuvant imatinib therapy. Mutation analysis of KIT was performed on a pretherapeutic biopsy specimen, as well as on the resected tumour specimen.


The pretherapeutic biopsy revealed cKit positive tumour cells with mutation of KIT exon 11 Del 560-576. The remaining tumour mass after neoadjuvant imatinib therapy almost exclusively consisted of hypocellular myxohyalinale stroma with rare microfoci of cKit positive tumour cells. Laser microdissection of several tumour microfoci revealed two additional point mutations located in the activation loop of KIT exon 17, C809G and N822Y, each observed separately in a distinct microfocus. Neither of these two point mutations has been reported in a GIST so far.


Neoadjuvant imatinib therapy successfully reduces tumour size in GISTs. Since resistance relevant secondary mutations of the activation loop of KIT may be observed after neoadjuvant imatinib therapy, the time elapse with preoperative imatinib therapy should be chosen as short as curative tumour resection or function sparing surgery can be carried out. The determination of the optimal time point for surgery is therefore a critical event and will be discussed.

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