Author(s): Miettinen M, Lasota J
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Abstract Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is now defined as a specific, KIT-expressing and KIT-signaling driven mesenchymal tumor of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The specific identification of GIST has become more important after the availability of KIT-selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor Imatinib mesylate, STI571, commercially known as Gleevec/Glivec (Novartis Pharma, Basel, Switzerland) in the treatment of unresectable and metastatic tumors. GISTs are the most common mesenchymal neoplasms of the GI tract, and encompass most tumors previously classified as gastric and intestinal smooth muscle tumors. GISTs typically present in adults over 40 years (median age 55-60 years) and only exceptionally in children. They can present anywhere in the GI-tract from the lower esophagus to the anus. A great majority of GISTs occur in the stomach (60-70\%) or small intestine (25-35\%). Colon, rectum, appendix (together 5\%) and esophagus (2-3\%) are rare sites. Some GISTs are primary in the omentum, mesentery or retroperitoneum, unrelated to the tubular GI-tract, but most GISTs in these sites are metastases from gastric or intestinal primary. Histologically GISTs vary from cellular spindle cell tumors to epithelioid and pleomorphic ones, and morphology differs somewhat by site. By definition, GISTs are KIT(CD117)-positive. Positivity for nestin (90-100\%) and CD34 (70\%) are also characteristic but less specific features. Smooth muscle actins (20-30\%) and heavy caldesmon (80\%) are often expressed, whereas desmin is usually absent. Predictive of malignancy are mitotic rate over 5 per 50 HPF or size over 5 cm. However, mitotically inactive intestinal tumors can metastasize, and gastric tumors are in average less often malignant than the intestinal ones. True smooth muscle tumors, GI-schwannoma and undifferentiated sarcomas are the most important differential diagnoses. KIT activating mutations occur in 70-80\% of cases. Their signaling consequences, clinical correlation and response to tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and specific genetic alterations are under intense investigation. Majority of these mutations are in-frame-deletions and missense mutations clustering in the 5'-end of juxtamembrane domain (exon 11). A rare mutation, an Ala502-Tyr503 duplication in exon 9, is specific for intestinal GISTs.
This article was published in Pol J Pathol
and referenced in Journal of Gastrointestinal & Digestive System