Background: Rectal and pararectal gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are rare. The optimal management strategy for primary localized GISTs remains poorly defined.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of 41 patients with localized rectal or pararectal GISTs treated between 1991 and 2011 in 13 French Sarcoma Group centers.
Results: Of 12 patients who received preoperative imatinib therapy for a median duration of 7 (2-12) months, 8 experienced a partial response, 3 had stable disease, and 1 had a complete response. Thirty and 11 patients underwent function-sparing conservative surgery and abdominoperineal resection, respectively. Tumor resections were mostly R0 and R1 in 35 patients. Tumor rupture occurred in 12 patients. Eleven patients received postoperative imatinib with a median follow-up of 59 (2.4-186) months. The median time to disease relapse was 36 (9.8-62) months. The 5-year overall survival rate was 86.5%. Twenty patients developed local recurrence after surgery alone, two developed recurrence after resection combined with preoperative and/or postoperative imatinib, and eight developed metastases. In univariate analysis, the mitotic index (≤5) and tumor size (≤5 cm) were associated with a significantly decreased risk of local relapse. Perioperative imatinib was associated with a significantly reduced risk of overall relapse and local relapse.
Conclusions: Perioperative imatinib therapy was associated with improved disease-free survival. Preoperative imatinib was effective. Tumor shrinkage has a clear benefit for local excision in terms of feasibility and function preservation. Given the complexity of rectal GISTs, referral of patients with this rare disease to expert centers to undergo a multidisciplinary approach is recommended.