Stomach cancer often grows slowly for many years before causing symptoms. The majority of stomach cancers in the United States are diagnosed after they’ve spread beyond the stomach.
Stomach cancer usually isn’t detected until the cancer has grown large or spread to other tissues.
Some subtypes of stomach cancer tend to grow slower than others. In this article, we look at the different types of stomach cancer and how fast they spread.
Is stomach cancer usually terminal?
People diagnosed with stomach cancer have a 5-year relative survival rate of about
Stomach cancer is often curable if it’s contained to your stomach when you’re diagnosed. However, more than
Yearly stomach cancer deaths continue to drop in the United States, largely due to improvements in treatment. From 1975–2020, the number of deaths decreased by
- Intestinal adenocarcinoma: Intestinal adenocarcinoma tends to grow slower and is more likely to respond to targeted therapy drugs.
- Diffuse adenocarcinoma: Diffuse adenocarcinoma grows throughout your stomach instead of in one location. It’s rarer and tends to be harder to treat.
Rarer types of stomach cancer include:
- Gastric lymphoma: Gastric lymphoma starts in a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. It makes up
less than 5%of stomach cancers and tends to grow slowly. The 10-year survival rates have been reported to be over 90%for low-grade gastric lymphoma.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors: Gastrointestinal (GI) stromal tumors develop in cells in the wall of the stomach called cells of Cajal. People with GI stromal tumors in any part of their GI tract have a 5-year, all stages combined, relative survival rate of about
- Neuroendocrine stomach cancer: Neuroendocrine tumors start in cells that produce hormones in response to nerve signals. They tend to grow slowly. The 5-year relative survival rate for neuroendocrine cancers in all parts of the GI tract is about
How fast do stomach cancers grow?
Stomach cancer often grows silently for many years before symptoms become noticeable.
Studies have reported a doubling time for early-stage stomach cancer between
Stomach cancer is also known to spread to:
Stomach cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms in the early stages. When symptoms do appear, they often mimic those of other GI conditions. Symptoms are similar between males and females, but stomach cancer occurs more often in men.
- poor appetite
- unintentional weight loss
- abdominal pain
- discomfort above your belly button
- loss of appetite
- palpable mass in abdomen
- blood in stool
- abdominal swelling
- jaundice, if it spreads to your liver
Risk factors for stomach cancer
- male sex
- increasing age
- ethnicity, with non-Hispanic Caucasian people at a lower risk than other ethnic groups in the United States
- being overweight
- higher alcohol consumption, especially in people who consume more than 3 drinks per day.
- tobacco use
- previous stomach surgery
- having a type of stomach polyp called an adenoma
If your doctor suspects stomach cancer, they’ll likely order an upper endoscopy. This test involves inserting a thin tube with a camera down your throat and into your stomach. Your doctor can take a tissue sample called a biopsy with this tube to be tested in a laboratory for cancer.
Imaging tests can help determine the extent of the cancer or how well you’re responding to treatment. Imaging might include:
Stomach cancer remains the
Here’s a look at the 5-year relative survival rate of stomach cancer in the United States based on the National Cancer Institute’s SEER
|5-year relative survival rates
Stomach cancer usually grows for many years before it’s detected. In about
The outlook for stomach cancer is poor once it spreads to distant locations. However, the number of stomach cancer deaths each year in the United States continues to decrease.