Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) are the most common mesenchymal neoplasms of the gastrointestinal tract. These tumours originate in Cajal interstitial cells and the majority are located in the stomach and small intestine. They frequently develop in males aged 50-60 years. The symptoms of GIST are non-specific and depend on the size and location of the lesion. Imaging difficulties impede an early diagnosis; sometimes these tumours represent an unexpected intraoperative finding or an emergency abdominal picture. GISTs are classified as tumours with low- and high-risk of malignancy, depending on tumour size and mitotic count. Tumour site and acute onset are also significant parameters for prognostic purposes. Fifteen patients with GIST - gastric in 7 cases, ileal in 6, jejunal in 1 and colonic in 1 - were treated surgically and, in 9 cases, with adjuvant therapy (chemotherapy in 4 patients and imatinib mesylate in 5). The mean follow-up was 38 months. No postoperative mortality was recorded, and the morbidity was 13.3%. Histological examinations documented 6 benign tumours and 9 malignancies. Two patients, one with gastric and one with colonic GIST, were lost to follow-up. One patient, with two synchronous gastric neoplasms (GIST + adenocarcinoma) died after 16 months, while the other 5 patients with gastric GIST are still alive; two patients with ileal GIST, treated with chemotherapy, died after 15 and 18 months, respectively. The mean survival of patients treated with imatinib mesylate was 36 months. Surgical management and the use of imatinib constitute the therapeutic gold standard for GIST. The use of imatinib mesylate is recommended today in the treatment of advanced GIST, especially in cases with liver and peritoneal metastases.
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