The 5 Stages of Stomach Cancer

May 7th 2016

Patients diagnosed with stomach cancer should follow a treatment plan as prescribed by a physician and an oncologist to improve chances of recovery and comfort. Although survival rates, as of 2015, may seem grim, advanced technology and a search for a cure may change these rates significantly in the future.

Stage 0

Stage 0 of stomach cancer is the earliest stage and is diagnosed when the cancer has not grown beyond cells that line the stomach. When cancer is detected at this stage, the survival rate is much higher than stages I through IV as long as treatment is administered before the cancer has a chance to spread.

Stage I

Stage IA of stomach cancer is also an early detection stage of this disease. The cancer has grown into the tissue and thin muscle layers as well as beneath the top layer of cells in the mucosa, but it has not spread to the lymph nodes. Stage IA has a survival rate of 71 percent, whereas Stage IB's survival rate is 57 percent, as of 2015, according to the American Cancer Society.

Individuals diagnosed with Stage IB stomach cancer are at a bit more risk because the cancer has spread to lymph nodes near the stomach, but it has not yet connected with distant organs or tissues. In some people with Stage IB stomach cancer, the cancer has grown into main muscle layers of the stomach wall.

Stage II

During Stage IIA of stomach cancer, the cancer has grown into the top layer of cells of the mucosa and commonly into the thin muscle layers and connective tissues. Although stage IIA cancer has not yet spread to distant sites, it may affect one to six nearby lymph nodes. The survival rate for Stage IIA stomach cancer is 46 percent versus 33 percent for Stage IIB stomach cancer.

Stage IIB stomach cancer is diagnosed when cancer grows into the main muscle layer or the top layer of the cells of the mucosa and into connective tissues. The cancer has not yet spread into organs or distant tissues, but three to seven lymph nodes may be affected by the disease. During this stage, cancer may also affect the subserosa layer of the stomach or grow completely through layers of the stomach wall, thus affecting the outer covering of the stomach.

Stage III

Stage III stomach cancer is divided into three categories of severity. Stage IIIA is diagnosed when cancer affects the main muscle layer, three to seven lymph nodes or through all layers of the stomach wall. Distant tissues or organs are not yet affected.

Stage IIIB occurs when cancer has grown into the subserosa layer, layers of the stomach wall including the outer covering of the stomach and into nearby organs, such as major blood vessels, the liver, pancreas, intestines or spleen.

Stage IIIC is the most severe and occurs when cancer affects nearby organs and structures and lymph nodes. The survival rate for Stage IIIC is 9 percent, whereas Stage IIIB is 14 percent and Stage IIIA is 20 percent.

Stage IV

Stage IV is the final stage of stomach cancer. During this stage, cancer has spread to distant organs such as bones, the brain, the lungs and liver. The survival rate for Stage IV cancer is 4 percent.


Stomach cancer is a common disease that can prove fatal if left untreated or diagnosed in late stages. Five stages with varying degrees of severity exist for patients diagnosed with stomach cancer.

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