Stomach Cancer Life Expectancy: Unraveling the Prognosis and Survival Rates

The stomach is a sac-like organ that’s an essential part of the digestive system.

After food is chewed and swallowed, it enters the oesophagus, a tube that carries food through the throat and chest to the stomach. The oesophagus joins the stomach at the gastroesophageal (GE) junction, just beneath the diaphragm (the thin sheet of breathing muscle under the lungs). The stomach then starts to digest the food by secreting gastric juice. The food and gastric juice are mixed and then emptied into the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum.

The stomach is divided into five parts

The first three parts make up the proximal stomach

  • Cardia: the first part, which is closest to the oesophagus
  • Fundus: the upper part of the stomach next to the cardia
  • Body: the central part of the stomach, between the upper and lower parts

The lower two parts make up the distal stomach

  • Antrum: the lower portion (near the small intestine), where the food mixes with gastric juice
  • Pylorus: the last part of the stomach, which acts as a valve to control emptying of the stomach contents into the small intestine.

Stomach cancer can happen in any part of the stomach. In most of the world, stomach cancers occur in the body of the stomach. 

Development of stomach cancer

Stomach cancers tend to develop slowly over many years. Before a true cancer develops, pre-cancerous changes often occur in the stomach’s inner lining (mucosa). These early changes rarely cause symptoms, so they often go undetected.

Cancers starting in different sections of the stomach can cause various symptoms and tend to have different outcomes. The cancer’s location can also affect treatment options. For example, cancers that start at or grow into the GE junction are usually staged and treated like cancers of the oesophagus.

Types of stomach cancer


Most stomach cancers (about 90% to 95%) are adenocarcinomas. These cancers develop from the gland cells in the innermost lining of the stomach. 

If you are told you have stomach cancer (or gastric cancer), it will almost always be an adenocarcinoma. 

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs)

These uncommon tumours start in very early forms of cells in the wall of the stomach called interstitial cells of Cajal. Some GISTs are much more likely to grow into other areas or spread to other body parts. Although GISTs can start anywhere in the digestive tract, most start in the stomach. 

Neuroendocrine tumours (including carcinoids)

Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) start in cells in the stomach (or other parts of the digestive tract) that act like nerve cells in some ways and like hormone-making (endocrine) cells in others. Most NETs grow slowly and do not spread to other organs, but some can grow and spread quickly. NETs are discussed in more detail in 


These cancers start in immune system cells called lymphocytes. Lymphomas usually begin in other body parts, but some can start in the stomach wall. The treatment and outlook for these cancers depend on the type of lymphoma and other factors.

Other types of cancer, such as squamous cell carcinomas, small cell carcinomas, and leiomyosarcomas, can also start in the stomach, but these cancers are sporadic.

Survival rates with stomach cancer

Survival rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time (usually five years) after their diagnosis. They can’t tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.

Remember that survival rates are estimates and often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people with specific cancers. Still, they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case.

The terms one-year survival and five year survival don’t mean you will only live for 1 or 5 years.

What affects survival?

Your outlook depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread. The type of cancer and grade of the cancer cells can also affect your survival. Grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope. Your general fitness and other health conditions also affect your survival. Health conditions could impact the treatments you can have. And good general fitness might help you cope better with your cancer and medicine.

stomach cancer survival rates

The survival rate depends on the stage of stomach cancer.

Rather than using a TNM (Tumor, node, metastasis) stage, we group cancers based on the extent of spread.

  • Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside the stomach.
  • Regional: The cancer has spread outside the abdomen to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
  • Distant: The cancer has spread to remote parts of the body, such as the liver.
  • Localized

72 out of 100 people (72%) with stage 1 stomach cancer will survive their cancer for five years or more after they’re diagnosed. 

  • Regional

Around 33 out of 100 people (approximately 33%) with stage 2 stomach cancer will survive their cancer for five years or more after they’re diagnosed. 

  • Distant

Around 6 out of 100 people (about 6%) with stage 2 stomach cancer will survive their cancer for five years or more after they’re diagnosed. 

People now being diagnosed with stomach cancer may have a better outlook than these numbers show. Treatments improve over time.