Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor - GIST: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2017

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with this type of tumor each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

Each year, as many as 3,500 to 4,000 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with a GIST. About 60% of GISTs begin in the stomach, and around 30% develop in the small intestine. The remaining types of GISTs mostly start in the rectum, colon, and esophagus. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 80.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for people with a GIST depends on several factors, including specific biologic characteristics of the tumor, the type of treatment, and the risk of coming back after treatment. 

The American Cancer Society’s most recent data available is from 2003 to 2009, and this means that these survival rate estimates do not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available since then. Based on that data, the overall 5-year survival rate of people diagnosed with a malignant GIST has been estimated to be 76%. If the tumor has not spread from the organ where it started, the 5-year survival rate is 91%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 74%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body when it was first diagnosed, the survival rate has been estimated at 48%.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with a GIST are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with GIST in the United States. People should talk with their doctor if they have questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Sources: American Cancer Society website and the National Cancer Institute.

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors. It explains what factors may increase the chance of developing this disease. You may use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.