Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor - GIST: Questions to Ask the Doctor

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some questions to ask your doctor or other members of your health care team, to help you better understand your diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Talking often with the doctor is important to make informed decisions about your health care. These suggested questions are a starting point to help you learn more about your cancer care and treatment. You are also encouraged to ask additional questions that are important to you. You may want to print this list and bring it to your next appointment, or download Cancer.Net’s free mobile app for an e-list and other interactive tools to manage your care.

General questions

  • Where is the tumor located?
  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
  • Should my tumor be tested for genetic changes?
  • How aggressive is the tumor?
  • Should I see a GIST specialist?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What clinical trials are open to me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?
  • What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the tumor, help me feel better, or both?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
  • Do I need to start treatment right away?
  • Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?
  • Who will be coordinating my overall treatment and follow-up care?
  • What are the possible side effects of this treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, or perform my usual activities?
  • Could this treatment affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long?
  • Could this treatment affect my ability to become pregnant or have children? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before treatment begins?
  • If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my medical care, who can help me with these concerns?
  • Whom should I call for questions or problems?

Questions to ask before surgery

  • Can you describe this surgery to me?
  • Why are you recommending this specific type of surgery for me?
  • What is the goal of surgery? Will it remove all of the tumor?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital for this surgery? For how long?
  • What are the possible side effects of this surgery? How will they be prevent and/or managed?

Questions about targeted therapy/kinase inhibitors

  • If I have surgery, should I take imatinib before surgery? What dosage? For how long?
  • If I have surgery, should I take imatinib after surgery? What dosage? For how long?
  • What factors determine how effective imatinib is likely to be?
  • What are the possible side effects? How will they be treated?
  • What can be done if imatinib stops working? Can I receive sunitinib in that case?
  • What can be done if sunitinib stops working? Can I receive regorafenib in that case?
  • Can I take the generic form of the drug prescribed?

Questions to ask before radiation therapy

  • What type of radiation therapy do you recommend? Why?
  • What is the goal of radiation therapy?
  • How often will I receive radiation therapy?
  • How much time will each treatment take?
  • What will I experience when I receive radiation therapy? Will it hurt or cause me discomfort?
  • What can I do to get ready for this treatment? Are there recommendations on what clothes to wear or leave behind?
  • What possible side effects can I expect from this treatment? How will they be prevented and/or managed?

After treatment, including surgery

  • What are the chances that the tumor will come back after treatment?
  • What follow-up tests do I need, and how often do I need them?
  • What support services are available to me? To my family?

The next section offers some more resources that may be helpful to you. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Additional Resources, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.