Pharmacological treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors: update from recent clinical trials

Author(s): M Agulnik, K Adekola, J Wayne

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are the most common mesenchymal tumor of the GI tract and until recently were uniformly found to have poor prognoses with no successful treatment options aside from surgical resection. Cytotoxic chemotherapeutics evaluated in this disease revealed minimal clinical responses. Given the clearer understanding of the distinct molecular abnormalities and biology of the tumor, treatment strategies to overcome this lack of clinical response have been achieved. As the field of oncology has shifted from the development of cytotoxic chemotherapeutics to the emergence of targeted agents, treatment options are available and are becoming effective at delaying progression of disease and decreasing mortality. GISTs can now be classified as a treatable malignancy. This review seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of GISTs, with a focus on recent clinical trials of pharmacological agents in their treatment.