Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are uncommon tumors of the GI tract. These tumors start in very early forms of special cells found in the wall of the GI tract, called the interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs). ICCs are cells of the autonomic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that regulates body processes such as digesting food.
GISTs can occur anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract. They are submucosal lesions, which most frequently grow endophytically in parallel with the lumen of the affected structure. GISTs may also manifest as exophytic extraluminal excrescences. These tumors have been reported ranging in size from smaller than 1 cm to as large as 40 cm in diameter.
GISTs are different from other more common types of GI tumors because of the type of tissue in which they start. GISTs belong to a group of cancers called soft tissue sarcoma. Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors causes significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. The degree of occurrence and pervasiveness of this disease is diverse among different societies. It is estimated that, in Israel, Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors affects 0-4% of the entire community. Age group between 25-65 years are mostly been affected by this disease.