Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor - GIST: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2022

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. Other GISTs usually start in the rectum, colon, and esophagus. Some may develop in the abdomen but outside of the gastrointestinal tract.

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 is 83%. However, survival rates for this type of tumor depend on several factors, including specific biologic characteristics of the tumor, the type of treatment received, and the risk that it will come back after treatment.

If the tumor has not spread from the organ where it started, the 5-year survival rate is 93%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs, the 5-year survival rate is 80%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body when it was first diagnosed, the survival rate is 55%.

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 this tumor in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how a GIST is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the websites of the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. (All sources accessed January 2022.)

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