LifeRaftGroup.org is a support group for victims of Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor, or GIST. Here is information from the Web site:
The Life Raft Group (LRG) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization providing support, through information, education, and innovative research to patients with a rare cancer called GIST (Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor). Since we received our non-profit status in June, 2002, we have expanded our outreach efforts to many thousands of patients, and their doctors. Local chapters have formed in a growing number of cities throughout the world.
Membership in the LRG is free as is access to our website, our Newsletter and our office based assistance programs.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) belong to a group of cancers called soft tissue sarcomas. Sarcomas are a rare type of cancer that can occur in connective tissues, bones, muscles, fat, nerves, blood vessels, and cartilage. Sarcomas are derived from the general class of cells known as “mesenchymal cells”. In contrast, most of the “common” cancers, such as lung cancer, skin cancer, and prostate cancer, are derived from a different type of cell, known as “epithelial cells”, the cells which line the body’s many surfaces. Why does this distinction matter? Because carcinomas and sarcomas behave very differently and are treated differently. Sarcomas are much less common than carcinomas. As a result, there are relatively few oncologists who specialize in treating sarcomas.
Although the exact incidence is still somewhat unclear, it is now estimated that, in the United States, between 5,000 and 10,000 people each year develop GISTs.
About 40-70% of GISTs arise from the stomach, 20-40% arise from the small intestine, and 5-15% from the colon and rectum. GISTs can also be found in the esophagus (<5%). Sometimes GISTs develop outside the intestinal tract in the abdominal cavity.