New cancer treatments have shown promising results for many people with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). Researchers are focusing on targeted therapies and tumor genotyping. Clinical trials are also available for people interested in experimental therapies.

Targeted therapies

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that better identifies and attacks cancer cells. Instead of destroying all of the body’s cells, targeted therapies pinpoint specific proteins that are either overactive or underactive. As a result, the healthy cells remain largely intact while the unhealthy or cancerous cells are destroyed.

Some targeted therapies are already available. Others are currently being studied in clinical trials. These drugs mostly target the KIT or PDGFRA proteins. Some of these trials combine a drug that’s already available with a new drug. Other trials are looking at how specific new drugs work alone in treating GISTs.

Other studies are examining how certain factors affect the outcome of treatment, such as:

  • dosage
  • duration of the targeted therapy
  • order in which you take medicine and have surgery

Tumor genotyping

Researchers have started to find connections between the genetic makeup of GISTs and how they react to certain targeted treatments. They’re investigating how to use these genotype profiles to find better treatments.

Certain clinical trials are only recruiting people with particular mutations. Others are studying treatments in people with a particular mutation in their GIST versus those without that mutation.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials evaluate how well a new treatment works before it’s released to the general public. If you enroll in a clinical trial, you can receive experimental therapy for your condition. Clinical trials may also study prevention and screening strategies, procedures, or other methodologies.

Clinical trials also offer new options to people who may not have had success with available treatments. Before you decide to enroll in a clinical trial, you should know that the results are unknown. Still, it’s important to remember that all standard therapies were once clinical trials.

Finding a clinical trial

If you’re thinking about participating in a clinical trial, talk to your doctor and healthcare team. They may know of a trial or be able to help you find one.

Many websites can also help you find clinical trials that are right for you, including: