Once the cancer is found in your stomach, the next step is to stage it or find out the extent of the tumor. For this, your physician may perform X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans. In general, gastric cancer progresses in the following stages:
- Carcinoma in situ (CIS) – the cancer has not spread beyond the lining of the stomach tissue.
- Stage I – a stage 1 gastric cancer is not aggressive; the chances of recovery is high. The tumor is found in the layer of tissue that lines the inside of the stomach. Although rare, cancer cells can spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage II – although a stage 2 gastric cancer is still not aggressive, the tumor has spread into the muscular layer of the stomach wall; lymph nodes may also be affected.
- Stage III – at this stage, the cancer has become aggressive and invaded all layers of the stomach wall; the tumor has also spread into lymph nodes.
- Stage IV – a stage 4 gastric cancer is very aggressive. The tumor has affected not only the tissue of the stomach but also nearby structures. In some cases, the cancer cells can travel to the spleen, liver, bone, lung or/and brain.
- Recurrent – cancer has returned after initial treatment.