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Gastro-intestinal stromal tumours (GISTs)

These are rare tumours, usually found in the stomach or small intestine. They are arise from a very special kind of cell (or their precursor) within the gut, called the interstitial cells of Cajal. These cells are found in broad networks within the submucosa and muscle layers within the gut wall. They act as “pacemaker cells” for driving and co-ordinating the peristaltic (wave like contractions) activity within the gut. These cells act as intermediates between the nerve cells and the muscles which drive contractions within the gut.

They may be asymptomatic or present with bleeding; haematemesis or melaena (relatively common) or obstructive symptoms (Colicky pain and nausea or vomiting). They often require surgical removal.

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