Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are the most common mesenchymal tumors of the GI tract, arising from the interstitial cells of Cajal, primarily in the stomach and small intestine. They manifest a wide range of morphologies, from spindle cell to epithelioid, but are immunopositive for KIT (CD117) and/or DOG1 in essentially all cases. Although most tumors are localized at presentation, up to half will recur in the abdomen or spread to the liver. The growth of most GISTs is driven by oncogenic mutations in either of two receptor tyrosine kinases: KIT (75% of cases) or PDGFRA (10%). Treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) such as imatinib, sunitinib, and regorafenib is effective in controlling unresectable disease; however, drug resistance caused by secondary KIT or PDGFRA mutations eventually develops in 90% of cases. Adjuvant therapy with imatinib is commonly used to reduce the likelihood of disease recurrence after primary surgery, and for this reason assessing the prognosis of newly resected tumors is one of the most important roles for pathologists. Approximately 15% of GISTs are negative for mutations in KIT and PDGFRA. Recent studies of these so-called wild-type GISTs have uncovered a number of other oncogenic drivers, including mutations in neurofibromatosis type I, RAS genes, BRAF, and subunits of the succinate dehydrogenase complex. Routine genotyping is strongly recommended for optimal management of GISTs, as the type and dose of TKI used for treatment is dependent on the mutation identified.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine