Despite remarkable progress in understanding and treating gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) during the past two decades, the pathological characteristics of GISTs have not been made clear yet. Furthermore, concrete diagnostic criteria of malignant GISTs are still uncertain. We collected pathology reports of 1,227 GISTs from 38 hospitals in Korea between 2003 and 2004 and evaluated the efficacy of the NIH and AFIP classification schemes as well as the prognostic factors among pathologic findings. The incidence of GISTs in Korea is about 1.6 to 2.2 patients per 100,000. Extra-gastrointestinal GISTs (10.1%) are more common in Korea than in Western countries. In univariate analysis, gender, age, tumor location, size, mitosis, tumor necrosis, vascular and mucosal invasions, histologic type, CD34 and s-100 protein expression, and classifications by the NIH and AFIP criteria were found to be significantly correlated with patient's survival. However, the primary tumor location, stage and classification of the AFIP criteria were prognostically significant in predicting patient's survival in multivariate analysis. The GIST classification based on original tumor location, size, and mitosis is more efficient than the NIH criteria in predicting patient's survival, but the mechanism still needs to be clarified through future studies.
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