Where Do GIST Tumors Metastasize?

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors, or GIST tumors, can originate in the stomach, small intestines, colon, esophagus or other soft tissue that makes up the gastrointestinal tract. Like other types of cancer, GIST tumors range from stage 1 to stage 4, depending on the extent to which they’ve advanced. Stage 4, which is the most advanced stage, includes GIST tumors that have metastasized, or spread, to distant areas of the body.

The areas where metastatic GIST tumors may have spread include the:

  • Liver – The liver is the most common location where GIST tumors spread.
  • Peritoneum – The peritoneum is the membrane lining the abdomen and is another common area where GIST tumors may metastasize.
  • Lymph nodes – GIST tumors may spread to the lymph nodes, but this is less common than the liver and peritoneum.
  • Lungs – Another less common area where metastatic GIST tumors may develop is the lungs.

How do I know if my GIST tumors have metastasized?

GIST tumors often don’t present symptoms until the tumor has grown. Symptoms of a GIST tumor may include abdominal pain, fatigue, a noticeable lump in the abdomen, feeling full and bloody stool or vomit. Metastatic GIST tumors may result in additional symptoms related to the specific location where they have spread. For example, cancer that has spread to the liver may cause jaundice and other symptoms related to liver function. However, the majority of GIST tumors are diagnosed before they have spread to distant areas of the body.

If you are experiencing symptoms of GIST tumors, it is best to consult a physician to receive an accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan. For individuals who have been diagnosed with metastatic GIST tumors, treatment is available at Moffitt Cancer Center. Moffitt is a high-volume cancer center, and our experts possess a unique level of expertise diagnosing and treating all types of cancer, including GIST tumors. For more information, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online. We welcome new patients with or without a referral.