Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Surgical resection for gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST): experience on 25 patients

Luigi Boni*, Angelo Benevento, Gianlorenzo Dionigi, Francesca Rovera and Renzo Dionigi

Author Affiliations

Department of Surgery, University of Insubria, Ospedale di Circolo e Fondazione Macchi, Varese, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2005, 3:78  doi:10.1186/1477-7819-3-78

Published: 30 December 2005



Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) are infrequent and diagnosis and prognosis could be troublesome. We present short and long term results of surgical resection for GIST at the Department of Surgery, University of Insubria, during a period of 17 years.

Materials and methods

All patients' data, tumor characteristics, surgical procedure and survival data were analyzed retrospectively. Tumors were divided in risk classes using the classification proposed by Fletcher, based on tumor size and number of mitosis.


Between 1987 and 2004, 25 patients underwent surgical resection for GIST. Stomach was the most common site of localization. Complete resection was achieved in 88% cases, while in 12% radical resection was not possible. The mean tumor size was 9.2 cm (1.2 – 30 cm): <5 cm diameter in 14/25 cases (56%), 5–10 cm in 5/25 (20%) and >10 cm in 6/25 (24%). Mitotic count was <10/50 HPF in 68% (17/25) and >10/50 in 32% (8/25). Using Fletcher's classification, tumors were divided in very low (11/25, 44%), low (4/25, 16%), intermediate (6/25, 24%) and high-risk (4/25, 16%) groups. The 5-year overall survival was 65% and 34% respectively with a statistically significant difference between tumors <5 cm and >10 cm in diameter and between complete and incomplete resection. High-risk tumors had a significantly shorter survival than low or very low risk.


Our experience confirms that GIST's are uncommon and aggressive cancers. The prognosis is strictly related to tumor size and number of mitosis. Although significant advances on new chemotherapeutic regimes have been made, to date, only radical surgery offers the chance of long-term survival.