Noteworthy Numbers: Stomach Cancer

TON - October 2020, Vol 13, No 5

Until the late 1930s, stomach cancer—also called gastric cancer—was the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Although stomach cancer is still a major cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, it is now much less common in this country.1 The following provides a brief look at some of the key statistics regarding this disease.

Adenocarcinomas make up approximately 90% to 95% of all stomach cancers.1 Other types of stomach cancers, which are rare, include lymphomas, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and carcinoid tumors.1,2 Common sites of metastasis in patients with adenocarcinomas include the liver (48%), peritoneum (32%), lung (15%), and bone (12%).3

The American Cancer Society estimates that 27,600 individuals (16,980 men and 10,620 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2020, and approximately 11,010 people (6650 men and 4360 women) will die from the disease.1 This accounts for 1.5% of all new cases of cancer diagnoses and 1.8% of all cancer deaths.4

The incidence of stomach cancer has decreased 1.5% annually over the past 10 years in the United States and the disease currently ranked the 15th most common type of malignancy.4,5 It occurs most often in older adults; approximately 60% of people are aged >64 years with the median age being 68 at diagnosis.5 It is more common in men than in women; the risk for a man being diagnosed with stomach cancer is 1 in 95, whereas the risk for a woman being diagnosed with the disease is 1 in 154.1

Infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria appears to be a major cause of stomach cancer. In addition, hereditary conditions can increase the risk for the disease. This includes hereditary diffuse gastric cancer caused by CDH1 mutation, which increases the risk for being diagnosed with stomach cancer by approximately 70% to 80%.1

The overall 5-year survival rate for patients with stomach cancer is 32%. The 5-year survival rates for patients with early-stage, regional, and distant disease are 69.5%, 32%, and 5.5%, respectively.4

Researchers continue to work on strategies for improving clinical outcomes for patients with stomach cancer. These include better methods of detecting early-stage disease; the use of less invasive yet effective surgical procedures; and the development and approval of novel targeted therapies.


  1. American Cancer Society. Stomach cancer. Updated January 8, 2020. Accessed July 6, 2020.
  2. Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Types of stomach cancer.,percent%20of%20all%20stomach%20cancers. Accessed July 6, 2020.
  3. Riihimäki M, Hemminki A, Sundquist K, et al. Metastatic spread in patients with gastric cancer. Oncotarget. 2016;7:52307-52316.
  4. National Cancer Institute. SEER cancer stat facts: stomach cancer. April 2020. Accessed July 6, 2020.
  5. Stomach cancer. Updated January 1, 2020. Accessed July 6, 2020.

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