Symptoms reported by gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) patients on imatinib treatment: combining questionnaire and forum data.



In the cross-sectional population-based survey study, Dutch GIST patients completed items from the EORTC QLQ-C30 and Symptom-Based Questionnaire (SBQ). In the forum study, machine learning algorithms were used to extract TKI side-effects from English messages on an international online forum for GIST patients. Prevalence of symptoms related to imatinib treatment in both sources was calculated and exploratively compared.


Treatment with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) imatinib in patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) causes symptoms that could negatively impact health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Treatment-related symptoms are usually clinician-reported and little is known about patient reports. We used survey and online patient forum data to investigate (1) prevalence of patient-reported symptoms; (2) coverage of symptoms mentioned on the forum by existing HRQoL questionnaires; and (3) priorities of prevalent symptoms in HRQoL assessment.


Fatigue and muscle pain or cramps were reported most frequently. Seven out of 10 most reported symptoms (i.e. fatigue, muscle pain or cramps, facial swelling, joint pain, skin problems, diarrhoea, and oedema) overlapped between the two sources. Alopecia was frequently mentioned on the forum, but not in the survey. Four out of 10 most reported symptoms on the online forum are covered by the EORTC QLQ-C30. The EORTC-SBQ and EORTC Item Library cover 9 and 10 symptoms, respectively.


This first overview of patient-reported imatinib-related symptoms from two data sources helps to determine coverage of items in existing questionnaires, and prioritize HRQoL issues. Combining cancer-generic instruments with treatment-specific item lists will improve future HRQoL assessment in care and research in GIST patients using TKI.

More about this publication

Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
  • Volume 30
  • Issue nr. 6
  • Pages 5137-5146
  • Publication date 01-06-2022

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