Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) Survivorship

About Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)

At Penn Medicine, patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) receive their care from a multidisciplinary team of nationally recognized experts in the diagnosis, treatment and research of gastrointestinal cancer.  

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are a type of soft tissue tumor. GISTs are very rare tumors that start in special cells in the wall of the GI tract, called the interstitial cells of cajal. These cells, often called the “pacemaker cells,” regulate body processes like digestion and send signals to the muscles within the gastrointestinal tract to expand and contract, moving food and liquid through the digestive system.

GISTs can occur anywhere within the digestive tract, but are found most frequently in the stomach or small intestine.

Penn Medicine’s multidisciplinary approach to cancer diagnosis and treatment provides better outcomes and gives patients with GIST access to the most advanced treatment, surgical techniques and clinical trials.

Because navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them make an appointment with the right physician.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN.

Read more About Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)

Diagnosing Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)

An accurate cancer diagnosis from trusted cancer specialists is the first step in getting personalized treatment options to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs).

Patients who choose Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, benefit from a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists including gastroenterologists, radiologists, pathologists and surgeons who work together to provide a diagnosis and treatment plan custom designed for each patient with GISTs.

Cancer specialists at Penn Medicine are highly experienced in using the most advanced techniques for diagnosing gastrointestinal stromal tumors and are actively researching better and more precise ways to detect GISTs.

Navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them make an appointment with the right person. Penn Medicine’s contact center has experienced cancer nurses available and ready to guide patients in finding the cancer specialist right for them.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN (7366).

Read more Diagnosing Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)

Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) Treatment

Following the diagnosis and staging of GISTs, cancer specialists at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center develop a personalized treatment plan. Penn’s treatment options for GISTs include:

  • Surgery
    • Local excision
    • Low anterior resection
    • Liver resection
    • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy and biologic therapies
    • Targeted therapies
  • Clinical trials
  • Other treatments
    • Integrative medicine and wellness
    • Palliative care
    • Penn Home Care and Hospice

Because navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them make an appointment with the right physician.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN (7366).

Read more Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) Treatment

Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) Survivorship

There are more than 12 million cancer survivors living and thriving today as a result of advances in cancer treatment. However, cancer treatments can result in physical, emotional and financial complications long after the therapy is complete. Survivorship programs at Penn Medicine are a distinct phase of gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) care and are designed to help patients' transition from their cancer treatment routine to a post-cancer care lifestyle.


Personalized Survivorship Care

At the end of treatment, GIST patients should schedule a survivorship visit with their oncologist and nurse practitioner. At this time, patients are provided with a summary of the treatment received as well as a plan for follow-up care.

Long-term cancer survivors should speak to their oncologist and nurse practitioner about scheduling a one-time, survivorship-focused consultation with a nurse practitioner or physician. Annual or more frequent follow-up appointments are also available.

Penn cancer providers work one-on-one with patients to develop survivorship care plans. Since every cancer is unique, the plans are tailored to the patients. 

The survivorship care plan includes information on:

  • Potential long-term or late side effects of cancer treatment, the symptoms and treatment.
  • Recommendations for cancer screening for disease recurrence or a new cancer.
  • Psychosocial effects, including relationships and sexuality.
  • Planning follow-up visits.

A survivorship care plan encourages patients to review the information with their health care team and become active participants in their follow-up care.

Penn also offers GIST patients a number of support programs and groups to enhance their survivorship care plans.

Patient navigation Specialists

Every step of cancer treatment – from cancer diagnosis, to surgery and treatment to forming a survivorship plan – comes with different needs and issues that should be addressed.

Oncology Navigation Specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center are available to make a patient’s experience as seamless as possible. As experts in navigating complex health care situations, patient navigation specialists serve as a consistent point of contact and a reliable source for advice, support and direction for patients and families. They can help in a variety of ways including; provide emotional support, identify resources, and ensure access to information, support services, educational programs and community resources.

Learn more about Oncology Navigation Specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center.

Survivorship Programs at Penn Medicine

Penn Medicine’s Living Well After Cancer™ Program is a nationally recognized program that focuses on issues facing cancer survivors. In 2007, the Abramson Cancer Center was designated a LIVESTRONG™ Survivorship Center of Excellence Network.  The Abramson Cancer Center is only one of eight LIVESTRONG centers in the United States, and is the only LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence in the Philadelphia region. The program focuses on survivorship, a distinct phase of care.

Prescription for Living: The Cancer Survivorship Program at the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, provides patients with a summary of important information about specific cancer diagnoses and treatments, as well as follow-up information and steps to take towards recovery, supportive care and education to help patients adjust to their lives as cancer survivors.

Continued Support

Penn offers cancer patients support programs and groups to enhance their survivorship care plans.

The Abramson Cancer Center and Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital at Pennsylvania Hospital offer a wide range of materials and host many activities that provide education and support to address key areas of concern including survivorship for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Focus On: Gastrointestinal Cancers is a day-long conference that addresses issues for patients with gastrointestinal cancer, as well as their loved ones.


Todd Sheridan

Todd Sheridan's family members have always supported his love of hockey and were his biggest fan when his team won the Junior A National Championship. They again showed their deep devotion by bringing him to Penn for the best possible cancer care. T

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