Cancer is a complex condition and there is a lot of information to take in after a stomach cancer diagnosis. Prognosis, or your outlook for the future, may be at the top of your list of concerns. Staging is the main tool doctors have for estimating stomach cancer prognosis. They look at biopsy results and imaging exams to stage stomach cancer. There are five main stomach cancer stages: 0, I, II, III and IV. There are also sub-stages within each stage. Higher stages are more advanced. In general, lower stages tend to have a better prognosis. Estimating Survival Rates Doctors often talk about a five-year survival rate when discussing cancer prognosis. This number tells you the percentage of people who are still alive five years after a cancer diagnosis. For example, an 80% five-year survival rate means 80 out of 100 people with that particular cancer are still living after five years. Typically, there is a survival rate for each stage of the cancer. Another way to talk about cancer survival is a relative survival rate. This rate looks at people with cancer living after a certain number of years compared to people without the disease. A five-year relative survival rate is a common amount of time. For example, an 80% five-year relative survival rate means people with the cancer are 80% as likely to be alive five years after diagnosis compared to people without cancer. Relative survival rates are a more realistic view of survival. With both types of survival rates, researchers come up with the numbers by looking at large groups of people during a specific length of time. But each person’s circumstances are unique. Several factors can influence a person’s survival, such as age, overall health, and the cancer’s response to treatment. And stomach cancer treatments usually improve with time. Because of this, survival rates can’t tell you how long you will live. They are only estimates. However, they can provide a guideline for how likely it is that treatment will be successful. When looking at survival rates, it’s important to remember many people will live past five years. In some cases, they live much longer. What’s more, people with cancer may die from other causes within five years. This is one reason the relative survival rate is more accurate. Comparing survival of people with stomach cancer to the general population without it gives a more level playing field. Stomach Cancer Survival Rate The most recent numbers for stomach cancer use data from the years 2004 through 2008. Experts looked at people with stomach cancer who had surgery as part of their treatment. Surgery is the main treatment for all but the most advanced stages. People who are not candidates for surgery will likely have a poorer prognosis than these estimates. The five-year survival rates for stomach cancer by stage are as follows: Stage IA: 94% Stage IB: 88% Stage IIA: 82% Stage IIB: 68% Stage IIIA: 54% Stage IIIB: 36% Stage IIIC: 18% Stage IV: 5% There is also a five-year relative survival rate for stomach cancer. It is an overall survival rate for everyone with stomach cancer of 31%. This number is low because most stomach cancers in the United States are advanced at diagnosis. Only 10 to 20% of stomach cancers are in early stages when it remains confined to the stomach. The rest have spread either locally to nearby tissues or to distant body sites. If you are facing a stomach cancer diagnosis, talk with your doctor about your situation. Your doctor is best able to help you understand how survival estimates apply to you.