What is my prognosis or probability of recovery?

If you or your loved one have been diagnosed with stomach cancer , it is normal for you to feel anxious and depressed. It is a heartbreaking experience, but you are not alone.

One of the best ways to advance cancer diagnosis is to understand what cancer is, such as whether the cancer has spread and how much it has spread, the advantages and disadvantages of treatment, and your prognosis (chance of recovery). …

When discussing your prognosis for stomach cancer, you or your loved one's doctor will likely tell you the five-year survival rate for stomach cancer (the percentage of people with stomach cancer who live five or more years after diagnosis).

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Five-year survival rate

After being diagnosed with stomach cancer, 31.5% of people survive for five or more years. These five-year survival rates come from the National Cancer Institute's SEER database (SEER stands for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outcomes).

However, it is important to understand that this percentage takes into account all stomach cancer patients, regardless of the stage of the cancer, and the stage of the stomach cancer can significantly affect the prognosis. In fact, the lower the stage of stomach cancer at diagnosis, the better the survival rate and the better your prognosis .

The stages of stomach cancer depend on how far the tumor has spread to the layers of the stomach and whether cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes, tissues, or organs outside of the stomach.

Stage I stomach cancer

Stage 1 stomach cancer is divided into stage 1A and stage IB.

Stage 1A

Stage 1A means that the cancer has not spread to the underlying muscular layer of the stomach wall (called muscularis propria), to the lymph nodes, or to other organs in the body.

The five-year survival rate for stage IA stomach cancer is 71%, which means that 71% of people diagnosed with stage IA stomach cancer live five years or more. On the other hand, 29% (100 minus 71%) of people diagnosed with stage 1A stomach cancer live less than five years.

Stage 1B

Stage IB means that the cancer has spread to one or two nearby lymph nodes or to the underlying muscle layer of the stomach wall. The five-year survival rate for stage 1B stomach cancer is 57%.

Stage II stomach cancer

Stage II stomach cancer is divided into stages IIA and IIB.

Stage IIA

Stage IIA means that the cancer has had one of three effects:

  • Cancer has spread to three to six nearby lymph nodes.
  • Cancer has spread to the underlying muscle layer of the stomach wall and to one or two nearby lymph nodes.
  • The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or other tissues or organs, but has grown through the main muscle layer of the stomach wall to become suberosa (a thin layer between the main muscle layer of the stomach and the outer lining of the stomach, called the serosa).

The five-year survival rate for stage IIB stomach cancer is 46%.

Stage IIB

Stage IIB stomach cancer will be diagnosed by a healthcare professional if one of the following four events occurs:

  • Cancer has spread to seven or more nearby lymph nodes, but not to the underlying muscle layer.
  • Cancer has spread to three to six nearby lymph nodes in addition to the underlying muscle layer.
  • Cancer has spread through the underlying muscle layer to the subserous layer, in addition to one or two nearby lymph nodes.
  • Cancer has spread to the outer lining of the stomach (called the serosa), but not to nearby lymph nodes.

The five-year survival rate for stage IIB stomach cancer is 33%.

Stage III stomach cancer

Stage III stomach cancer is divided into stage IIIA, stage IIIB, and stage IIIC.

Stage IIIA

In stage IIIA, the cancer has:

  • It spreads to the main muscle layer of the stomach wall and seven or more nearby lymph nodes.
  • It spreads to the subserous layer of the stomach and three to six lymph nodes.
  • It spreads to the serous membrane and one to six nearby lymph nodes.
  • It spreads through the serosa to nearby organs (such as the spleen , intestines, liver, pancreas, or large blood vessels), but not to lymph nodes.

The five-year survival rate for stage IIIA stomach cancer is 20%.

Stage IIIB

In stage IIIB, cancer has:

  • It spreads to seven or more nearby lymph nodes, but not the serosa.
  • It has spread to layers such as the lamina propria, the muscularis, or the submucosa, and has spread to 16 or more nearby lymph nodes.
  • It spreads to the main muscle layer of the stomach wall and to 16 or more nearby lymph nodes.
  • It spreads to seven or more nearby lymph nodes and to the serous membrane.
  • It spreads through the serosa to nearby organs (such as the spleen, intestines, liver, pancreas, or large blood vessels) and from one to six nearby lymph nodes.

The 5-year survival rate for stage IIIB stomach cancer is 14%.

Stage IIIC

In stage IIIC, stomach cancer has:

  • It has spread to 16 or more nearby lymph nodes, but not to the serosa.
  • It spreads to 16 or more nearby lymph nodes and to the serosa.
  • It spreads through the serosa to nearby organs (such as the spleen, intestines, liver, pancreas, or large blood vessels) and seven or more nearby lymph nodes.

The five-year survival rate for stage IIIC stomach cancer is 9%.

Stage IV stomach cancer

Stage IV means that the cancer has spread to organs far from the stomach, such as the liver, lungs, brain, or bones; this is called metastatic stomach cancer. The five-year survival rate for stage IV stomach cancer is 4%.

Warnings when reading statistics

While these statistics give you an idea of the cancer prognosis for you or your loved one, there are a few caveats to keep in mind.

Survival rates are based on research.

Survival rates are based on studies with large numbers of patients, so the average survival rate cannot predict anyone's prognosis.

A 70% five-year survival rate may seem daunting, but the truth is, you may very well live much longer than five years. Some people are even cured of stomach cancer. This is more likely if the cancer is found early. Unfortunately, stomach cancer is often not detected until it reaches a later stage.

Survival rates also depend on the stage of the cancer. For example, a large retrospective Italian multicenter study of patients with early gastric cancer published in 2006 reported long-term survival rates after surgical resection of 92%, 82%, 73%, and 27%, respectively, for patients with 0, 1-3, 4 to 6 and> 6. In recent years, the survival rate of gastric cancer has improved mainly in stages I-III.

The 5-year survival rate for stomach cancer is just a statistic – it's meant to guide you and your healthcare provider so you know what to expect, but it shouldn't be taken as a hard and fast rule of thumb.

Survival rates are not the only predictors

When evaluating the prognosis for stomach cancer, your healthcare provider will consider other factors, such as your physical health in addition to the cancer, the specific treatment plan you are taking, and the location of the tumor in your stomach.

Indicators do not include death from other causes

It is possible for a person to die from a completely different health condition or situation (such as a car accident) after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. These survival rates do not include death from other causes.

Survival rates improve over time

To calculate the five-year survival rate, researchers must study people with stomach cancer for at least five years, and many things can happen in that time, such as improved (and new) cancer treatments (such as chemotherapy ). ). or immunotherapy ).

Prices are based on a specific therapy.

These National Cancer Institute 5-year survival rates are based on people who have had surgery for stomach cancer. This means that the person has totally or partially removed the belly. If someone chooses not to have surgery, their survival rate is likely to be lower.

Get the word of drug information

While these percentages can give you an idea of the stomach cancer prognosis for you or your loved one, be sure to discuss your particular situation with your doctor. Ask lots of questions, and don't hesitate to ask about more difficult or sensitive issues, such as healing after surgery, chemotherapy side effects, pain relief, or what happens if you don't get treatment.

Frequently asked questions

  • Although stomach cancer is usually found at a later stage, it can be found at an early stage. Regular stomach cancer screening is not recommended for people at average risk, but for those at higher risk, discuss early detection with a healthcare professional. Screening exams will include imaging tests such as X-rays and endoscopy, and sometimes a biopsy.

  • Stomach cancer is not one of the most common cancers in the United States, accounting for about 1.5% of newly diagnosed cancers each year. In 2021, a total of about 26,560 new cases and 11,180 deaths from stomach cancer are projected.

  • Signs of stomach cancer include involuntary weight loss, poor appetite, abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, bloating, bloody stools, fatigue, and jaundice.

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