Symptoms of stage 1 stomach cancer in people of any sex or gender may include abdominal discomfort, indigestion, nausea, and bloating. Treatment typically involves surgery.

Stomach cancer, or gastric cancer, is when there is a tumor present in any part of the stomach.

It is the sixth most common type of cancer in the world. In the United States, over 127,000 people were living with stomach cancer in 2020, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

An estimated 26,500 new diagnoses are expected in 2023.

In this article, we look at how cancer staging works, along with the symptoms, treatments, and outlook for stage 1 stomach cancer.

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Doctors use a cancer staging system to help them understand the spread of stomach cancer in a person’s body. This may also help a person with cancer understand their current state, future outlook, and treatment options.

Stomach cancers are staged using a three-letter classification system called TNM, which was developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). TNM looks at three factors:

  • Tumor (T): The extent of the primary tumor, including how far it has grown into the stomach wall tissue and if it has reached nearby structures or organs.
  • Nodes (N): If the cancer has spread to any nearby lymph nodes.
  • Metastasis (M): If the cancer has spread to other body parts, such as the liver or lungs.

Once a doctor determines T, N, and M categories for a person’s stomach cancer, the information is grouped into a system that reflects the overall stage.

Stomach cancer stages run from 0 to 4. The lower the number, the less the disease has spread.

Stage 1

Doctors divide stage 1 stomach cancer into 1A and 1B.

1A• The main tumor has grown from the top layer (mucosa) of the stomach lining into the underlying layers (submucosa) of tissue.
1B• The main tumor affects the mucosa and potentially the submucosa, but it has spread to one or two nearby lymph nodes.
• Or, the main tumor has grown from the mucosa more deeply into the stomach’s muscle layer, but it has not spread to nearby lymph nodes.

In stage 1, the stomach cancer has not spread to other parts of the body.

In the early stages of stomach cancer, people may not experience any symptoms. Then, when they do experience symptoms, they are often vague and mimic those of other digestive issues.

Early signs and symptoms of stage 1 stomach cancer may include:

When stomach cancer spreads, it may cause other symptoms, such as:

It is important to see a doctor if a person is experiencing these symptoms, especially if they are reoccurring or do not go away.

The duration of stage 1 cancer is different for everyone. It is hard to estimate because it depends on several factors, such as:

  • the type of cancer
  • the location of the tumor
  • the person’s overall health and age

Some stage 1 cancers may not spread for months or years, while others may grow and spread rapidly. A doctor can explain how stage 1 stomach cancer will likely progress in more detail.

The primary treatment for stage 1 cancer is surgery.

Stomach cancer surgery may include removing part of the stomach (subtotal gastrectomy), or removing the entire stomach (total gastrectomy). If nearby lymph nodes have also been affected, these will be removed.

Doctors may also recommend chemotherapy after surgery if the cancer is more advanced than previously expected. This may help kill any remaining cancer cells.

In some very early-stage, small cancers, a surgeon may be able to perform the surgery with an endoscope. This keyhole surgery involves inserting a thin, flexible tube down the throat and into the stomach, where they can remove the tumor from the stomach lining.

The outlook for cancer is typically made by using the five-year relative survival rate.

This compares people with the same type of cancer to the general population and reflects how many people are still alive five years after their initial diagnosis.

The five-year survival rate for stage 1 stomach cancer is 65%.

Early detection is an important factor in improving a person’s outlook, and later stages of the disease are more challenging to treat.

What are 7 warning signs of stomach cancer?

Early signs and symptoms of stomach cancer may be similar to other digestive conditions, so it might be difficult to recognize the warning signs. That said, some of the common symptoms include:

  • indigestion
  • heartburn
  • stomach pain
  • being full quickly when eating
  • feeling bloated
  • burping frequently
  • mild nausea

How do I check myself for stomach cancer?

A person should see a medical professional if they are experiencing any symptoms of stomach cancer.

Can stage 1 stomach cancer be cured?

The five-year survival rate for stage 1 stomach cancer is 65%. However, surgery may provide the highest chance of curing stage 1 stomach cancer. This depends on whether all of the cancerous tissue has been removed.

Stage 1 stomach cancer is an early stage of the disease and has not spread to other organs.

It means the primary tumor has grown from the top layer of the stomach wall into the underlying tissue and has also spread to one or two nearby lymph nodes. Alternatively, the main tumor may have grown more deeply into the stomach wall but not affected the lymph nodes.

Doctors treat stage 1 stomach cancer with surgery to remove all or part of the stomach. They may follow this with chemotherapy if necessary.

The stage 1 stomach cancer outlook is favorable, as doctors can successfully treat many cases.