What Are the Side Effects of Targeted Therapy for GIST?

Targeted therapy for gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST tumors) can be used to block tumor cells from growing by targeting genetic mutations found specifically in GIST tumors. This treatment may be provided before or after surgery, or as a standalone treatment in advanced cases where the tumors cannot be removed. Because GIST tumors are typically less responsive to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, targeted therapies are a better GIST tumor treatment option.

Targeted therapy involves taking a pill daily for a period of time specified by your cancer team. Side effects vary depending on which specific medication you are prescribed but may include:

  • Stomach discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Fluid retention and swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Mouth irritation
  • Changes to skin and hair
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hand-foot syndrome
  • High blood pressure

How can I prepare for the side effects of GIST tumor treatment?

If your cancer team has recommended targeted therapy to treat your GIST tumor, it’s important to prepare ahead of time. Knowing what to expect throughout treatment can help you recognize any symptoms or side effects that may need to be addressed. Before starting treatment, you should ask your physician what type of targeted therapy you will be receiving, how long you will be receiving it and what types of side effects you may experience. If you do experience side effects during GIST tumor treatment, your physician may be able to adjust the dosage or prescribe other medications to help with these symptoms.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, the multispecialty team that makes up our Sarcoma Program and Gastrointestinal Oncology Program is dedicated to diagnosing and treating GIST tumors. We offer a broad range of GIST tumor treatment options, including targeted therapy, surgery and more. Our team takes an individualized approach to treatment, ensuring each Moffitt patient receives a treatment plan that is best for them.

To discuss your GIST tumor treatment options at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online. No referral is required for an initial consultation.