Stomach Cancer Staging

Stomach cancer staging indicates:

  • How many layers of the stomach are affected by the cancer
  • If nearby lymph nodes contain cancerous cells, and if so, how widespread cancerous cells are
  • If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

The stage of the stomach cancer determines treatment options.

Stomach cancer staging tests include the CT scan, chest x-ray, endoscopic ultrasound and laparoscopy. According to the National Cancer Institute (2010), the exact stage is sometimes unclear until after the tumor and nearby lymph nodes are surgically removed.

Stomach Cancer Stages

Doctors look at three things when determining the stage of a stomach cancer and use a letter designation for each:

  • How far the primary tumor has grown into the wall of the stomach and into nearby organs (designated by the letter “T”)
  • If and how much the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes (designated by the letter “N”)
  • If the cancer has metastasized (spread) to other organs of the body (designated by the letter “M”).

A number from 0 to 4, with 0 being the least severe and 4 most severe, is then added after one of these letters. Using the letter and number, doctors then assign a stage to the cancer. Stomach cancer staging works as follows:

  • Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ): The tumor is only in the inner layer of the stomach.
  • Stage I: The tumor is only in the submucosa, with cancer cells in no more than six lymph nodes, or the tumor is in the stomach’s muscle layer or subserosa, but not in the lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Stage II: The tumor is only in the submucosa, with cancer cells in seven to 15 lymph nodes or is in the muscle layer or subserosa, with cancer cells in one to six lymph nodes. Or, the tumor has grown into the outer layer of the stomach, with no cancer cells in the lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Stage III: The tumor is in the muscle layer or subserosa, with cancer cells in seven to 15 lymph nodes or has grown into the outer layer of the stomach, with cancer cells in one to 15 lymph nodes. Or, cancer cells are in nearby organs, but not in the lymph nodes or distant organs.
  • Stage IV: Cancer cells are in more than 15 lymph nodes, or in nearby organs and at least one lymph node, or in distant organs.

Stages I through III are also divided into sub-stages–for example, stage IA and IB indicate sub-stages of stage I.

Stomach Cancer Survival Rates

The American Cancer Society (2010) reports the following five-year stomach cancer survival rates:

  • Stage IA: 71 percent
  • Stage IB: 57 percent
  • Stage IIA: 45 percent
  • Stage IIB: 33 percent
  • Stage IIIA: 20 percent
  • Stage IIIB: 14 percent
  • Stage IIIC: 9 percent
  • Stage IV: 4 percent.

In looking at these stomach cancer statistics, remember that they are not set in stone. A variety of factors can affect your prognosis, including your overall heath and your personal response to your treatment plan.

Resources

American Cancer Society. (2010). Stomach cancer. Retrieved February 7, 2011, from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/StomachCancer/DetailedGuide/stomach-cancer-what-is-stomach-cancer

Mayo Clinic. (2009). Stomach cancer. Retrieved February 7, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stomach-cancer/DS00301

National Cancer Institute. (2009). Stomach (gastric) cancer. Retrieved February 7, 2011, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/stomach