Hope as a Lifeline: Imatinib Discontinuation in Patients With Oligometastatic Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumours

Anticancer Res. 2022 Feb;42(2):955-963. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.15555. Epub 2022 Jan 29.


Background/aim: This study explored how highly selected oligometastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) patients subjectively experienced the discontinuation of imatinib (IM) treatment.

Patients and methods: Being an exploratory qualitative study, we applied a phenomenological and hermeneutical approach. We conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with nine oligometastatic GIST patients who were in long-term clinical remission. The gathered data were interpreted using a thematic analysis.

Results: The analysis of the interview data revealed four main themes; getting one's life back, fear of recurrence, hope as a lifeline and the pros/cons of participating in this clinical trial. The participants disclosed that hope of being cancer free and without the side-effects of IM was essential for both participating in this study and enduring the uncertainty of drug discontinuation.

Conclusion: Use of a qualitative approach in clinical trials can result in a better understanding of patients' perspectives and therefore lead to improved clinical practice.

Keywords: Gastrointestinal stromal tumours; discontinuation; hope; imatinib; psycho-social; qualitative research; side-effects; tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / secondary
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / drug therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / psychology*
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / secondary
  • Hope
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate / adverse effects
  • Imatinib Mesylate / therapeutic use*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Remission Induction
  • Withholding Treatment


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Imatinib Mesylate