GIST symptoms sometimes arise when a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) develops within the interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) that line the walls of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The ICC are specialized cells that facilitate the movement of food and waste through the digestive system. If these cells change and grow uncontrollably, a tumor can develop anywhere along the GI tract, which spans from the esophagus to the anus. A GIST, which is a type of soft tissue sarcoma, may or may not be cancerous.
A GIST does not always produce specific symptoms, especially in its early stages. When symptoms do occur, they are often vague or mimic the signs of other medical conditions. The symptoms can also vary based on the location of the tumor in the GI tract. All of this underscores the importance of seeking a prompt and accurate diagnosis if any of the following common GIST symptoms occur:
- Abdominal pain
- An unexplained feeling of fullness
- A palpable mass in the abdominal region
- Trouble or pain when swallowing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bloody (red or black) vomit or stools
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
Patients who are experiencing GIST symptoms can consult with the multispecialty team of cancer experts at Moffitt Cancer Center. Our experienced specialists consider multiple factors when determining the best course of treatment for an individual patient. Among other things, those factors include the size, location, spread and genetic makeup of a tumor. A Comprehensive Cancer Center recognized by the National Cancer Institute, Moffitt offers patients access to all aspects of cancer care – including groundbreaking clinical trials – in a single convenient location, without requiring referrals.