Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor - GIST: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2020

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 over age 50. They rarely occur in people younger than 40.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live 5 or more 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, 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 94%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs, the 5-year survival rate is 82%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body when it was first diagnosed, the survival rate is 52%.

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 2020) and the National Cancer Institute website (January 2020).

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