Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor - GIST: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2015

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

People with GIST often do not experience any specific symptoms or signs. When symptoms do occur, they may be vague. Or these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not a tumor.

  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen

  • A mass in the abdomen that you can feel with your hand

  • Bowel obstruction

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Vomiting blood or having blood in the stool

  • Fatigue due to anemia, which is a low red blood cell count and is often caused by bleeding of the GI tract

Sometimes a GIST is discovered by chance when a person has an imaging test for an unrelated concern or condition.

If you are concerned about one or more of the symptoms or signs on this list, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If a GIST is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of your medical care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis and it explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Or, use the menu on the side of your screen to choose another section to continue reading this guide.