The most commonly used treatments for GIST are surgery and targeted drug therapy. Surgery is the gold standard for treating GIST. It offers the best chance for a “cure”. Patients that are cured by surgery tend to be patients with a low risk of recurrence. Surgery is typically used at the beginning stages of treatment for a single tumor, although surgery is less commonly used for metastatic GIST at the time of diagnosis. Surgery is also used to treat localized progression (progression of 1 or 2 tumors) and in some cases, can be considered for metastatic GIST in patients that are stable on drug therapy.
Drug therapy is used for preventative therapy and to treat advanced disease in GIST. It includes Gleevec taken to prevent or delay a recurrence after surgery (adjuvant Gleevec). Gleevec is also used as first-line treatment for advanced or metastatic GIST. For patients that are resistant or intolerant to Gleevec, Sutent is used as second-line treatment. Stivarga (regorafenib) is approved as a third-line treatment in the United States and Japan, but is not yet approved in other countries.
For patients failing standard treatment, clinical trials are recommended. The use of drugs approved for other cancers (off-label) is also fairly common, but may not always be approved by insurance. Radio-frequency ablation, hepatic arterial embolization and palliative radiation are sometimes used, especially for the treatment of localized progression.
Treatments by Treatment Type
The Treatments by Stage and Treatments by Mutation menus provide a structured, logical way to understand information about GIST treatments. This Treatments by Type menu provides you with quick access when you already know what you are looking for.