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GIST Specialist

Center for Advanced Surgery

Gastro-Esophageal and Endoscopic Surgeons located in Dallas, Plano, & Tyler, TX

Less than 6,000 gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) are diagnosed each year, but these tumors can severely disrupt your health whether they’re benign or malignant. Fellowship-trained gastroesophageal surgeons Marc Ward, MD, and Steven Leeds, MD, diagnose and treat GIST with state-of-the-art surgery at the Center for Advanced Surgery in Dallas, Plano, and Tyler, Texas. Call the practice or schedule a consultation online today if you’re looking for an experienced gastrointestinal surgeon.

GIST Q&A

What is a GIST?

A gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is a soft tissue sarcoma located anywhere in your digestive system, although they usually develop in your stomach or small intestine. They can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). 

A GIST starts in some of the autonomic nerve cells in your digestive system. Your autonomic nerves control body functions such as digestion, heart rate, respiration, and other unconscious actions that keep you alive. 

Medical researchers believe that genetic changes are the root cause of most GIST cases. Up to 80% of diagnoses are associated with a mutation in the KIT gene. If you have a family history of GIST, your chances of developing these tumors increases. 


What are the signs of a GIST?

Small GISTs might not cause any symptoms. However, if your tumor grows, it can cause symptoms that include:


  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in your stool
  • Anemia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lost appetite
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Problems swallowing


You might also feel a lump or a growth in your abdomen. 


How do you diagnose a GIST?

The team at the Center for Advanced Surgery provides thorough diagnostic testing to identify GISTs. After reviewing your medical history and symptoms, they complete a physical exam and feel your abdomen. 

They also use tests including endoscopy, CT scans, endoscopic ultrasound, and fine-needle aspiration biopsy to confirm your diagnosis. 


What are the available treatments for a GIST?

The team at the Center for Advanced Surgery offers minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries to remove the GIST from your digestive tract. 

General anesthesia is used during laparoscopic surgery. Your surgeon makes a few small incisions in your abdomen and inserts a laparoscope — a thin surgical tube with a light and camera on its tip. The device sends images from inside your body to a screen in the treatment room. 

Your doctor slightly inflates your abdomen with gas, which allows for more precise images. Then they insert additional, specially designed surgical instruments into your abdomen to excise and extract your tumor. If necessary, your doctor might remove other tissue.


What should I expect after GIST surgery?

Depending on the details of your surgery, you might need to spend several days recovering in the hospital. You can usually begin eating normally within a few days, although your surgeon might recommend a special diet. 

Recovery can take up to six weeks. Your surgeon provides personalized aftercare instructions. For example, you shouldn’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds or engage in vigorous physical activity until you have a follow-up appointment and your surgeon says it’s safe. 

Call the Center for Advanced Surgery or make an appointment online if you’re looking for expert GIST surgery.