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Surgery is typically the main form of treatment for a GIST, or a gastrointestinal stromal tumor. Surgical intervention can be especially effective if the tumor is small (less than 5 centimeters across) and limited to the part of the gastrointestinal tract where it first developed. Surgery may be recommended if the tumor has started to spread, although it may be necessary to remove a nearby organ (such as the stomach or small intestine) to remove all of the cancerous cells. For large tumors, chemotherapy may be provided before a GIST surgery to shrink the tumor before it is removed.

Depending on the size, location and extent of a patient’s tumor, a surgeon may recommend one of the following GIST surgery options:

  • A traditional resection
  • A laparoscopic (minimally invasive) resection
  • A non-traditional form of surgery, such as radiofrequency ablation (the destruction of a GIST with high-energy waves) or cryotherapy (the destruction of a GIST with extreme cold)
  • A hepatic artery embolization, in which a branch of the hepatic artery (which provides a GIST with more than 95 percent of its blood supply) is blocked off to starve the tumor

Because gastrointestinal stromal tumors are prone to spreading if the lining that surrounds them is accidentally torn, surgical removal requires substantial accuracy and expertise. At Moffitt Cancer Center, every GIST surgery is performed by a team of skilled surgeons who work exclusively with gastrointestinal cancers and have achieved the refined expertise required to precisely remove even the most complex tumors. And, through our commitment to ongoing surgical research, many tumors that would once have been considered inoperable can now be successfully removed at Moffitt. Furthermore, U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals for Cancer ranked Moffitt as High Performing in terms of gastroenterology surgery.

Referrals are not required to make an appointment with one of our gastrointestinal surgeons. For more information about GIST surgery, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.