Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor Awareness Day
Every year on July 13th, the world observes Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour Awareness Day. This important day is an opportunity to raise awareness about this rare type of cancer, educate the public, and support individuals impacted by GIST. Although gastrointestinal stromal tumors are uncommon, they can have a significant impact on individuals and their families, making it critical to share knowledge and understanding about this condition.
What Is Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors?
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors are the most uncommon type of soft tissue sarcoma that happens in the gastrointestinal tract. Gastrointestinal stromal tumors develop from the special nerve cells called interstitial cells of Cajal. These cells are present in the lining of the digestive system and are also known as the pacemaker of the gut as it plays a vital role in instructing the gastric muscles to contract. And it helps in the smooth passage of food and liquids along the gastrointestinal tract. However, Gastrointestinal stromal tumors can occur anywhere from the mouth to anus, the common site of occurrence is the stomach and small intestine.
How Do Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors Occur?
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors develop as small, noncancerous tumors, which can further progress into large and harmful tumors. Gastrointestinal stromal tumors happen as a result of abnormal cell division, where the cells grow in a rapid fashion.
GIST Awareness Day 2023 Theme
"Thriving Together" is the theme of GIST awareness day 2023. Our goal for GIST Awareness Day (which occurs during Sarcoma Awareness Month) is to educate as many people as possible about this rare disease, why mutational testing is an important part of a GIST, and to demonstrate to the world that there is a powerful advocacy contingent working on behalf of patients and researchers to advance GIST research, trials, and new medical interventions.
Risk Factors Of GIST
- Age: GIST strikes more commonly in people of age above 50 years, and studies found that the risk is higher in males than females.
- Gene Mutations: Most Gastrointestinal stromal tumors are developed due to gene mutations. This gene produces a protein KIT CD 117, which signals uncontrolled cell division. Studies also state that 10% of GISTs are associated with a mutation in PDGFRA which is also involved in providing instructions for the cell proliferation process.
- Family History: The mutations in KIT genes can run through the families. If you have a family history of GIST, you will likely develop GIST at a younger age only. You are at greater risk if you have a family history of carney-stratakis syndrome, a genetic condition that is developed due to a mutation of succinate dehydrogenase, an enzyme that plays a role in the metabolism of food.
- Personal History: If you have had a history of neurofibromatosis type 1, a disease that causes tumors to develop in the nerve tissues, you are at a high risk of getting GIST.
Holistic Living After GIST Treatment
GIST Awareness Day, on the other hand, is about more than just education and awareness. It's also a chance to take action. It is advised to go for regular follow-up tests every 3-6 months after the completion of treatment. During the follow-up care, doctors may conduct a few imaging studies to identify the risk of relapse. It is normal to feel a little anxious post-GIST treatment; thus, getting your survivorship plan and diet chart from proper counselors shall improve your overall well-being. Follow the precautions below to reduce the likelihood of recurrence.
- You may develop vitamin deficiency if you have undergone surgery to remove the tumor, hence it is suggested to discuss with your doctor regarding the supplement therapy.
- Try to consume smaller meals every 2 - 3 hours if you are experiencing digestive problems.
- Avoid taking foods that contain refined carbohydrates, sugary substances, and processed meat, as it may cause tummy discomfort and worsen the symptoms.
- Strenuous exercises or lifting weights must be avoided six months post-abdominal surgery.