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Cancer Biol Ther. 2004 Mar;3(3):251-8. Epub 2004 Mar 10.

Recent advances in cell biology, diagnosis, and therapy of gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST).

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Department of Pathology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA.


The understanding of mesenchymal neoplasms of the gastrointestinal tract has evolved dramatically over the last two decades since gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) was described as the most common stromal tumor arising anywhere from the esophagus to the ano-rectum. Although morphologically similar to other benign and malignant smooth muscle and neural stromal neoplasms, GIST constitutes a distinct group of rare gastrointestinal tract tumors that originate from the interstitial cells of Cajal, regulators of gut peristalsis that normally express CD117, which is the product of the c-KIT proto-oncogene that encodes a tyrosine kinase receptor that regulates cellular proliferation in GISTs. Virtually all GISTs occur from mutations of the c-KIT oncogene and exhibit consistent expression of c-KIT (CD117), which is considered the most specific criterion for a diagnosis of GIST. Gastrointestinal stromal tumors vary in their behavior and several features have to be considered to assess their malignant potential. The advent of sophisticated imaging techniques for the evaluation and sampling of stromal tumors of the gastrointestinal tract has resulted in improved detection of GISTs. The identification of a novel tumor-specific target in c-KIT resulted in the development of a tyrosine kinase-inhibitor (imatinib mesylate) that provides an encouraging option for treating GISTs. This article reviews recent advances in the understanding of the cell biology, diagnosis, and therapy of GISTS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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