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Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

 presenting as a Gastric Mass :

A Case Report



Benjamin C. Deveza, M.D.

Janix M. De Guzman, M.D.

Edgardo Penserga, M.D., FPCS, FPSGS

Reynaldo Joson, M.D., MHA, MHPEd, MS Surg



Department of Surgery

Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center



Key words : gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST); gastric mass


Reprint request : Benjamin C. Deveza, M.D.

Department of Surgery, Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center








A female Filipino presented with black tarry stools and was admitted at Internal Medicine as a case of Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding secondary to Peptic Ulcer Disease. On further work-up, through abdominal  CT scan, there was a large lobulated mass in the gastric body, lesser curvature aspect, measuring about 5 x 3.7 x 4.9 cm. There is thickening of the wall as well as in the greater curvature across the mass. There is marked narrowing of the gastric lumen at this point.Liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen and adrenal glands are normal. Impression was a Gastric Malignancy. Patient was then transferred to the Department of Surgery for further evaluation and management. She underwent subtotal gastrectomy, Billroth II and jejuno-jejunostomy. Histopathology of gastric mass revealed Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor ( GIST ), lesser curvature, stomach. Patient was discharged improved after nine days and was monitored closely on follow-up. Discussion centered on Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST) as the newer classification for smooth muscle tumors of the gastrointestinal tract.










Gastric stromal tumors are generally called gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). They are mesenchymal gastrointestinal (GI) neoplasms defined by the expression of KIT (CD117) in the tumor cells. Previously, these tumors were classified as gastric or intestinal smooth muscle tumors; however, this traditional classification was abandoned with the availability of immunohistochemical methods verifying this specific entity. GISTs are rare and constitute only about 1% of all GI malignant tumors, nevertheless, they are the most common mesenchymal neoplasm of the GI tract. GISTs are found in the stomach in 47-60% of cases, yet they are the least prevalent malignant tumors of the stomach, constituting 1-3% of all malignant gastric tumors.

            This is a case report of a female Filipino patient who was initially assessed to have Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding secondary to Peptic Ulcer Disease but on further work-up was found to have a Gastric Malignancy.

            This case report is made to develop the awareness on Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST) as the newer classification for gastric stromal tumors.










Case Report


This is a case of a 55-year-old female from Pandacan, Manila who was admitted because of black tarry stools. History of present illness started four days prior to admission when she experienced vague abdominal pain. This was accompanied by passage of black stools and coffee ground vomitus. Persistence of symptoms prompted consult at our institution where she was subsequently admitted at Internal Medicine. Past medical history revealed that she was diagnosed with Osteoarthrtis since 2001 and was maintained om Mefenamic acid and Rofecoxib. She denied any heredofamilial disease. On physical examination, she was conscious, coherent with stable vital signs. She had pale palpebral conjunctiva. On rectal examination, there was black tarry stools on the examining finger. The rest of the physical examination was essentially normal. Impression at that time was Upper Gastrointestinal bleeding secondary to Peptic Ulcer Disease. At the wards, she was hooked to IV fluids. Endoscopy was done which revealed a 5x5 smooth surfaced mass with mucosal erosions with active bleeding. Abdominal CT scan was likewise done and revealed a large lobulated mass in the gastric body, lesser curvature aspect, measuring about 5 x 3.7 x 4.9 cm. There is thickening of the wall as well as in the greater curvature across the mass. There is marked narrowing of the gastric lumen at this point.Lliver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen and adrenal glands are normal.

            Impression: Gastric Malignancy








            At this time, patient was transferred to the Department of Surgery for further evaluation and management. She was then prepared for operation. She underwent subtotal gastrectomy, Billroth II and jejuno-jejunostomy. Intraoperatively, there was a 5x5x4.5 cm submucosal mass on the lesser curvature of the stomach with mucosal ulcerations. A solid mass with central necrosis was also noted. Final histopathological report showed a Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST), lesser curvature, stomach.





            Post-operative course was uneventful. She was discharged after nine days and oral medications were continued at home. Follow-up was made after one week.
















Histologically GISTs vary from cellular spindle cell tumors to epithelioid and pleomorphic ones. By definition they are CD-117 positive, although positivity for nestin and CD34 is also common but not specific. Predictive of malignancy are mitotic rate over 5 per 10 high-power fields (HPFs) or size over 5 cm. However, tumors with low mitotic index can also metastasize, and gastric tumors are commonly less aggressive that the intestinal ones.

GISTs are typically diagnosed as solitary lesions, although in rare cases, multiple lesions can be found. These tumors can grow intraluminally or extraluminally, toward the abdominal cavity and adjacent structures. When the growth pattern is extraluminal, patients can be symptom free for a long time and present with very large exogastric masses. Distant metastases tend to appear late in the course of the disease in most cases. In contrast to other soft tissue tumors, the common metastatic sites of gastric stromal tumors are the liver and peritoneum. Lymph node involvement is rare and is in the range of 0-8%.

Clinical Features

       Race: No racial predilection exists.

       Sex: Gastric stromal tumor is not more prevalent in either sex.

       Age: Onset can occur at any age, but the typical age of onset is in the sixth to seventh decades of life.

         Causes: No risk factors have been identified.


       Upper GI bleeding - most common clinical manifestation of gastric stromal tumor, manifesting as hematemesis or melena and observed in 40-65% of patients. Bleeding occurs because of an ulcer forming in the gastric mucosa overlying the tumor.

       Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, epigastric fullness, and early satiety.





       Physical examination rarely demonstrates any significant findings. In some cases, examination may identify a palpable abdominal mass in the upper abdomen. Palpable masses are typically detected in patients with an exogastric tumor growth.

Imaging Studies:


Preoperative biopsy: Preoperative biopsy is not always indicated. Surgical resection is required for treatment and for definitive diagnosis in most cases. Biopsy is important when the submucosal nature of this tumor is in doubt or when tumor characteristics as demonstrated by upper endoscopy and endoscopic ultrasonography are not typical. In specific patients, such as high-risk operative patients with small benign-appearing lesions and minimal or no symptoms, tissue diagnosis may help in further decision-making. The 2 ways to obtain a preoperative histologic diagnosis are as follows:




        Resection to achieve a negative microscopic margin (1-2cm adequate)

        Routine lymphadenectomy is not indicated and does not show any survival benefit.

        Direct every effort at avoiding tumor rupture during the operation. Tumor rupture is associated with a worse prognosis because of peritoneal seeding

        In cases of disseminated disease, consider palliative resection because long-term survival has been reported in certain cases.


Long-term survival for malignant GIST after a curative-intent surgery is strongly related to tumor size and histologic grade


Mitoses per 20 HPFs

5-Year Survival Rate













        5-year survival rates after R0 resection for gastric stromal tumors range from 32-93%. In large series, this rate is about 60%.

        median survival after palliative resection is about 10 months, with a 5-year survival rate as high as 10%.


        Histologic grade alone is a strong prognostic factor. In 1982, Shiu et al reported a 5-year survival rate of 80% in patients after resection of low-grade tumors. The 5-year survival rate dropped to 32% in patients with high-grade tumors.

        Other factors found to have a negative impact on prognosis are tumor rupture during operation, involvement of histologic margins, and lymph node involvement.












References :

       Knoop M, St Friedrichs K, Dierschke J: Surgical management of gastrointestinal stromal tumors of the stomach. Langenbecks Arch Surg 2000; 385(3): 194-8

       Koga H, Ochiai A, Nakanishi Y, et al: Reevaluation of prognostic factors in gastric leiomyosarcoma. Am J Gastroenterol 1995; 90(8): 1307-12

       Ng EH, Pollock RE, Munsell MF, et al: Prognostic factors influencing survival in gastrointestinal leiomyosarcomas. Implications for surgical management and staging. Ann Surg 1992; 215(1): 68-77

       Bandoh T, Isoyama T, Toyoshima H: Submucosal tumors of the stomach: a study of 100 operative cases. Surgery 1993; 113(5): 498-506

       Chak A, Canto MI, Rosch T, et al: Endosonographic differentiation of benign and malignant stromal cell tumors. Gastrointest Endosc 1997; 45(6): 468-73

        Fields S, Libson E: CT-guided aspiration core needle biopsy of gastrointestinal wall lesions. J Comput Assist Tomogr 2000; 24(2): 224-8


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