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Weinberg Describes the Available Options for Patients With GIST

Benjamin Weinberg, MD
Published Online:6:03 PM, Mon December 9, 2019

Benjamin Weinberg, MD, assistant professor of medicine, and attending physician, Georgetown University Hospital, Medstar Health, discusses the overall prognosis of patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST).

GIST has an interesting growth pattern, says Weinberg. It develops from the stromal tissue, which allows GIST to present anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract. In most cases, if the tumor is surgically removed, outcomes are good. Then, oncologists have to decide if it is necessary to administer therapy after surgery and which form of therapy is optimal. Weinberg notes that the typical drug used for the treatment of a patient after surgical resection is imatinib (Gleevac), which is given for 1 to 3 years and followed by a curative surgical resection if the patient is high-risk.

In patients with metastatic GIST, physicians also use imatinib, but they profile patients beforehand to ensure that the patient can respond to the drug. There are other drugs, which are similar to imatinib, and can target other poly kinases in patients who are refractory to imatinib.

There is a group of patients with mutations that are resistant to imatinib, and physicians use other drugs in this patient population. Overall, Weinberg says there is a variety of targeted oral agents that are effective for the treatment of GIST, even in the metastatic setting.
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