Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Stages

After a stomach (gastric) cancer diagnosis has been made, your doctor will try to figure out if the cancer has spread, and if so, how far, through a process called staging. The stage of a cancer determines how serious the cancer is as well as what the best form of treatment will be. 

The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system is the staging system most often used for stomach cancer. In regards to staging, TNM refers to:

  • Tumor size and extent of tumors
  • Lymph node involvement
  • Presence or absence of distant metastasis (whether or not the cancer has spread to other areas of the body)

Your cancer can be stage 1, 2, 3, or 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, like stage 4, means a more serious cancer that has spread from where it started. Below are the details of each class: 

  • Stage 0 - Abnormal cells are present but have not spread to nearby tissue.
  • Stage I, II, III - Cancer is present. The higher the number, the larger the cancer tumor and the more it has spread into nearby tissues.
  • Stage IV - The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body. 

When stomach cancer is found very early, there is a better chance of recovery. Stomach cancer is often in an advanced stage when it is diagnosed.