GISTs are a subset of mesenchymal tumors and represent the most common mesenchymal neoplasms of GI tract. However, GIST is a recently recognized tumor entity and the literature on these stromal tumors has rapidly expanded.
An extensive review of the literature was carried out in both online medical journals and through Athens University Medical library. An extensive literature search for papers published up to 2009 was performed, using as key words, GIST, Cajal's cells, treatment, Imatinib, KIT, review of each study were conducted, and data were abstracted.
GIST has recently been suggested that is originated from the multipotential mesenchymal stem cells. It is estimated that the incidence of GIST is approximately 10-20 per million people, per year.
The clinical presentation of GIST is variable but the most usual symptoms include the presence of a mass or bleeding. Surgical resection of the local disease is the mainstay therapy. However, therapeutic agents, such as Imatinib have now been approved for the treatment of advanced GISTs and others, such as everolimus, rapamycin, heat shock protein 90 and IGF are in trial stage demonstrate promising results for the management of GISTs.