Gastrointestinal stromal tumor

A gastrointestinal stromal tumor is a type of tumor that is commonly found in the GI tract. There are between 4,500 to 6,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. The gastrointestinal tumor is not always a cancerous tumor. Sometimes it can be a benign tumor. If the tumor is benign that means that it will not grow into other areas of the body. Of course, a cancerous gastrointestinal stromal tumor can spread to other parts of the body including the liver. This type of tumor will most often form in the stomach, small intestines or esophagus. They most often occur in people between the ages of 40 and 80. The bulk of these tumors are usually found growing the stomach. Around 15% begin in the small intestines and about 10% can begin in other parts of the GI tract. When there is a family history of gastrointestinal stromal tumors you may be more at risk for developing one than others. This is not a proven fact however.

Sometimes a gastrointestinal stromal tumor can be present and not cause any symptoms at all. The person may not even now they have a mass in their GI tract. It all depends on the location of the tumor and the size of it whether or not there will be symptoms. The most common symptom of a gastrointestinal stromal tumor includes bleeding in the G.I. tract which is noticed by a change in color of the bowel movements. However there may not be a change in the color of bowel movements when the tumor is a slow bleeding tumor. When the tumor is bleeding slowly it can be detected by a routine blood test. The results will be a low red blood cell count. The bleeding will cause the person to be anemic and become very tired and fatigued. Other symptoms of this type of tumor include nausea, vomiting blood and loss of appetite. If such a tumor is located near the esophagus it can cause difficulty in swallowing. The tumor may or may not be felt upon physical examination by the doctor. When a gastronome intestinal stromal tumor grows into the intestines it can cause an intestinal obstruction which will lead to severe abdominal pain and vomiting. If this occurs in emergency surgery will need to be done to remove the blockage. Many times these tumors are found through a routine physical exam done by a doctor who feels the tumor in the abdomen.

The symptoms of a Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor can also be compared to those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome which can cause confusion and a misdiagnosis. These tumors are hard to diagnose with out accurate medical testing. Sometimes they are not felt and may not cause symptoms. They can become quite large before being diagnosed. The only effective treatment for a gastrointestinal stromal tumor is surgical removal. If your doctor discovers a gastrointestinal stromal tumor he will take a full medical history from you even if you do experience symptoms. Diagnosing a gastrointestinal tumor can be done through various tests. The first test your doctor may order is a barium x-ray. The patient is instructed to drink a barium solution before the x-ray is done. X-rays may be taken at various intervals as the barium solution passes through the GI tract.

Another way to test for a gastrointestinal stromal tumor is Enteroclysis. This is a procedure where a small tube is passed through the mouth or nose into the stomach all the way to the beginning of the small intestine. Then barium is sent through the tube with a substances that cause is the intestines to expand. Then x-rays are taken with the result being better images of the small intestines. A barium enema is also done to look at the inner surface of the large intestines.

Last updated on Apr 19th, 2010 and filed under Cancer Research. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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