Archive of Oncology 2002 Volume 10, Issue 4, Pages: 267-271
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Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (gists): Definition, clinical, histological, immunohistochemical and molecular genetic features and predictors of malignant potential and differential diagnosis

Zivković Vesna, Katić Vuka V., Nagorni Aleksandar V., Veličković Ljubinka, Milentijević Maja, Đorđević Biljana

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) represent a distinct and the most important subset of mesenchymal tumors of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract GISTs occur throughout the GI tract but are usually located in the stomach and small intestine. The cellular origin, differentiation, nomenclature and prognosis of GISTs are controversial. Because GISTs, like the interstitial cells of Cajal, the GI pacemaker cells, express CD117 (c-kit protein), the origin of GISTs from the Cajal cells has recently been suggested. GISTs are also known for their wide variability in clinical behavior and for the difficulty to determine their malignant condition The most reproducible predictors of malignancy are mitotic count >1-5 per10 high-powered fields (HPF), size >5 cm, tumor necrosis, infiltration and metastasis to other sites. However, some tumors with mitotic activity <1/10 HPF may metastasize indicating some uncertainty in malignant potential of GISTs, especially those larger than 5 cm. Recently, mutations in c-kit gene (exon 11) preferentially occur in malignant GISTs and may be a clinically useful adjunct marker in evaluation of GISTs. In conclusion, the strong CD117 expression mostly defines primary GI mesenchymal tumors as GIST. Specific identification of GIST may become clinically important if therapies targeting the c-kit tyrosine kinase activation become available.

Keywords: Gastrointestinal neoplasms, immunohistochemistry, proto-oncogene, protein c-kit

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