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What Affects Stomach Cancer Survival Rates?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2016
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Stomach cancer survival rates depend on the stage of the cancer, its characteristics, and the patient's general level of health at the time of diagnosis. As a general rule of thumb, the earlier the cancer is caught, the better. Five year survival rates for people with stage I stomach cancer hover around 71%, while patients with the most advanced stage of stomach cancer have a 4% chance of five year survival.

Cancer staging is one of the most important determining factors in stomach cancer survival rates. A low grade cancer isolated to the stomach alone may be very treatable, and the patient could recover well. If a cancer is advanced and has progressed through the stomach wall to neighboring organs, or metastasized to a remote location, the patient's chances are more grim. It will be harder to eliminate the cancerous cells, and there is a risk of recurrence in the future.

The type of cancerous cells involved can also be important. Several kinds of cancer can grow in the stomach, including adenocarcinoma, lymphoma, and soft tissue sarcoma. Some cancers are more aggressive than others, and the patient's chance of survival decreases with an aggressive tumor. Another aspect of stomach cancer survival rates can involve the location of the tumor. Easily operable tumors mean better survival rates, while more challenging locations can be difficult to treat.

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Patients who are healthy at the time of diagnosis have better stomach cancer survival rates. A history of smoking, alcohol consumption, and health problems can decrease the chances of survival, and age can also be a factor. Older patients are less likely to recover. Unhealthy patients may not tolerate treatment as well; chemotherapy for stomach cancer can be grueling, and a patient with poor health to begin with might become too sick to survive treatment.

Stomach cancer is often diagnosed very late, when it is in an advanced stage. Patients may dismiss early warning signs like indigestion and pain as temporary, or may associate them with existing heartburn or other medical issues. By the time a doctor evaluates a patient, suspects cancer, and orders testing to see if tumors are present, they may have grown through the walls of the stomach and invaded other organs in the vicinity. Patients at risk of stomach cancer because of family history, health problems, or lifestyle should discuss this with their doctors and consider more frequent diagnostic screening to catch abnormal cell growth as early as possible.

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