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The prognosis for stomach cancer depends on several factors. Prognosis can depend on where the stomach cancer is located and how far it has spread. Factors ranging from the staging of the stomach cancer to treatment options can also affect the life expectancy of those suffering from this disease.
Stomach cancer often occurs in the lining of the stomach and invades the rest of the stomach as the disease progresses. The danger with stomach cancer is its ability to grow beyond the walls of the stomach and invade other nearby organs, such as the intestine and liver. When stomach cancer begins to spread, doctors refer to that as metastasis.
Staging allows doctors to communicate the prognosis for stomach cancer to the patient. This sets the course for treatment options and also provides a statistically based prognosis for the diagnosed stomach cancer. Stomach cancer stages range from Stage 0, the least severe, to Stage IV, the most severe.
The prognosis for stomach cancer diagnosed and staged at 0 is significantly better than those staged I through IV. At this point, the cancer is only located along the lining of the stomach, and patients have a better chance for a full recovery with several treatment options. In Stage I through Stage IV, the stomach cancer moves beyond the lining of the stomach. Stage I stomach cancer often involves the muscular layer of the stomach and up to six lymph nodes, but it has not spread to other organs. Five-year survival rates for Stage I cancer range from 57% to 71%.
Stage II stomach cancer involves seven to fifteen lymph nodes, and the tumor may have reached the outer layer of the stomach. The prognosis for stomach cancer at Stage II is not as favorable as stomach cancer staged at Stage 0 or Stage I. At this stage, the five-year survival rate is between 33% and 45%.
The prognosis for stomach cancer graded Stage III or Stage IV declines even further. At these stages, the cancer has often invaded additional lymph nodes and organs, such as the liver. The five-year survival rates range from 4% for a Stage IV diagnosis and 20% for a Stage III diagnosis.
Treatment and the eventual prognosis of stomach cancer will be related to the location, staging, and treatment options available to each patient. A patient's overall health will play a factor in recovery and the ability to withstand treatment. Treatment options can include chemotherapy, surgery to remove the stomach or tumor, and radiation treatment. In some cases the entire tumor can be removed, improving the patient’s chance of survival.