National Comprehensive Cancer Network

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NCCN Announces Release of Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST) Task Force Report

Hollywood, FL, March 11, 2004 – The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) today introduces The NCCN Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST) Task Force Report. The report, an expansion on The NCCN Sarcoma Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, outlines the current thinking about the optimal management of patients with GIST. Though an uncommon cancer, GIST is increasingly recognized after experts reported that imatinib (Gleevec®, Novartis Pharmaceuticals) an oral cancer therapy which targets a molecular switch important to the tumor cells, could induce dramatic remissions and prolong survival for patients with advanced GIST.

“The clinical care of patients with GIST has changed radically in the past few years thanks to the rapid evolution of research translating into new and effective therapeutic strategies,” said George D. Demetri, MD, Chair, GIST Task Force and Director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “The GIST Task Force Report represents the work of expert physicians from several disciplines, such as pathology, surgery, medical oncology, and radiology. Together, we have outlined the most effective approach for optimal management of GIST patients. Our aim is to increase awareness of the tremendous changes which have developed in such a short time in our approach to patients with GIST, and to identify opportunities for future research to improve outcomes further.”

Preliminary recommendations of the GIST Task Force Report were presented today at the NCCN ninth annual conference: Clinical Practice Guidelines and Outcomes Data in Oncology in Hollywood, Florida. The complete report will be published as a supplement to the May 2004 issue of the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (JNCCN).

GIST is the most common form of gastrointestinal (GI) sarcoma, a life-threatening cancer of the GI tract. Recent data suggest that there are as many as 4,500 to 6,000 new cases of GIST per year in the United States. The introduction of effective molecularly targeted therapy has dramatically improved the outcomes for patients diagnosed with GIST.

“The NCCN was pleased to be able to bring together experts from across the USA and Canada to analyze and discuss the evidence supporting the newest and best standards for management of this disease,” said Joan S. McClure, MS, Vice President, Clinical Information and Publications for NCCN. “Advances in pathologic diagnosis, imaging technology, and treatment modalities have merged to significantly change the way clinicians of multiple specialties interact to care for patients with GIST as a coordinated team.”

The task force report describes the cooperative multidisciplinary effort among medical oncology, surgery, pathology, and other specialties that is necessary to achieve the best possible results, which include reducing the incidence and risks of recurrent disease, optimizing disease control, improving quality of life by minimizing surgery that might impair function, and prolonging survival.

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®), a not-for-profit alliance of 27 leading cancer centers, is dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of care provided to patients with cancer. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops resources that present valuable information to the numerous stakeholders in the health care delivery system. As the arbiter of high-quality cancer care, NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and recognizes the significance of creating clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision-makers. The primary goal of all NCCN initiatives is to improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of oncology practice so patients can live better lives. For more information, visit

The NCCN Member Institutions are:

  • Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center
  • Case Comprehensive Cancer Center/University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute
  • City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center | Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
  • Duke Cancer Institute
  • Fox Chase Cancer Center
  • Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
  • The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins
  • Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University
  • Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Moffitt Cancer Center
  • The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine
  • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital/The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • Stanford Cancer Institute
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center
  • UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • University of Colorado Cancer Center
  • University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center
  • Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
  • Yale Cancer Center/Smilow Cancer Hospital