Follow-up care for Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

Executive Summary for Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

Follow-up care for gastrointestinal stromal tumors refers to the after-treatment protocols conducted by the healthcare team to look after recurrence, manage the side effects, and monitor the overall health of the patient. Both medical and physical examinations are also a part of the follow-up care of gastrointestinal stromal tumors. We also look out for the recurrence of the tumor during the follow-up care. Along with it, the symptoms due to the long-term effects of radiation therapy are also treated during the follow-up care. The strategies adopted for follow-up treatment are chemo sessions, radiation therapies, and more.

Care for a cancer patient does not end with the end of active treatment that was going on. Even after that, the health care team looks after the cancer recurrence, managing the side effects developed due to the treatment and monitoring your overall health. This is follow-up care. Your follow-up care includes medical tests, physical examination, or both. 

Doctors usually keep track of your recovery in the months and years ahead. MRI scans done at regular intervals and a history and physical examination are best to monitor if the tumour is stable or is trying to come back.

Doctors keep track of the recovery in the months and years ahead. A person who received treatment for a GIST is usually seen by the doctor every 3 to 6 months for up to 5 years and then once a year after that ​1​. Cancer rehabilitation can mean any of a wide range of services, such as physical therapy, career counseling, pain management, nutritional planning, and emotional counseling. 

Followup Care for Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

It is essential to have a well-structured follow-up treatment care plan for gastrointestinal stromal tumor patients. The doctor will propose regular check-ups and scans to check for late effects based on the tumor-related treatment symptoms of the patient. Managing the side effects while receiving treatment is critical in the follow-up care approach. Having the support of an experienced professional medical team is essential to customize a follow-up care plan for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Proper communication with the doctor regarding all the side effects, particularly the long-term effects is crucial to determine any underlying risk factor.

Looking out for recurrence

One of the things to take care of after cancer treatment is recurrence. Cancer recurrence happens when a few cancerous cells remain even after treatment, they can grow again until they show up any signs or symptoms or are seen in test reports. 

Scan-xiety describes the stress of the patient or the family before the follow-up tests. Commonly, a recurrence is found when a person has new symptoms or an abnormal finding on physical examination. 

Managing long-term and late side effects

Most people encounter different side effects while receiving treatment. But in some patients, side effects linger beyond the treatment duration. These are the long-term side effects. Late side effects can develop after months or even after years of treatment. Both late and long term, these side effects can be physical and emotional.

Keeping personal health records

Along with your doctor, you should develop a personalized follow-up care plan. Some patients, after the treatment, continue to see their oncologist, while others go back to the care of their family/primary care doctor. This usually depends on various factors, including the type and stage, side effects, health insurance rules, personal preferences, beliefs and expectations ​2​.


  1. 1.
    Joensuu H, Martin-Broto J, Nishida T, Reichardt P, Schöffski P, Maki RG. Follow-up strategies for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumour treated with or without adjuvant imatinib after surgery. European Journal of Cancer. Published online August 2015:1611-1617. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2015.05.009
  2. 2.
    Nishida T, Blay JY, Hirota S, Kitagawa Y, Kang YK. The standard diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of gastrointestinal stromal tumors based on guidelines. Gastric Cancer. Published online August 15, 2015:3-14. doi:10.1007/s10120-015-0526-8