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GIST: Frequently Asked Questions

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Generally, the smaller the tumor is when it’s removed, the slower it grows and the less chance it will recur. For example:

  • Tumors 2 cm to 5 cm are generally considered low risk
  • Slower-growing tumors 5 cm to 10 cm are intermediate risk
  • Faster-growing tumors of 5 cm to 10 or more cm are considered high risk

If the tumor was not completely removed, or if the tumor ruptured during removal, there is a greater chance of it recurring.

What kind of monitoring do I need after treatment?
After surgery, the recommended follow-up is examinations every 3-6 months, with CT scans. PET scans are not substitutes for CT scans. Recurrent GIST will usually occur within two years after surgery.

If you take imatinib, or sunitinib, side effects of the drugs need monitoring.

Will insurance pay for Gleevec?
Imatinib (Gleevec) is a genetically engineered, biologic drug. These drugs require a complex development process, and the drugs can be expensive. Some insurance companies or policies may not cover drug costs.

Even when the drug is covered by insurance, co-payments can quickly add up. Check your insurance policy to see if these drugs are covered and find out the copayment amount.

Many drug companies offer financial help for biologic drugs, and pharmacies may offer discount programs. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to learn more about getting help with your drug costs.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on May 23, 2014

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