Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor - GIST: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2019

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with a GIST 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.

GISTs are rare, making up less than 1% of all gastrointestinal tumors. Each year, approximately 4,000 to 6,000 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with a GIST. About 60% of GISTs begin in the stomach, and around 35% develop in the small intestine. The remaining types of GISTs usually start in the rectum, colon, and esophagus. Most people diagnosed with a GIST are in their 60s. They rarely occur in people younger than 40.

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 that it will come back after treatment.

The American Cancer Society’s most recent data available is from 2003 to 2009. This means that these survival rates 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 is 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, 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 is 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 a GIST in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society website (January 2019).

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors. It explains the factors that may increase the chance of developing a GIST. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.