How GIST starts and spreads
Cancer cells are abnormal versions of healthy cells. So, they grow in a way similar to healthy cells. Here is how these cells grow and spread:
- A single GIST cell grows and divides to form 2 cells. These 2 cells divide to form 4 cells. This process repeats, again and again
- Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells do not respond to your body’s cues telling them to stop growing
- A tumor can be detected once enough cancer cells are made
- Some cancer cells may enter the bloodstream, spreading from the stroma to other parts of the body
- New tumors may arise in other organs. If this happens, the cancer is known as metastatic. But, no matter where the cancer spreads, it will still be called GIST, because it started in the stroma
GIST starts in a part of the body called the stroma. The stroma is the lining of the digestive tract. Doctors believe that it may be caused by a gene mutation. In other words, GIST is not likely caused by a person’s diet or lifestyle choices.