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Stage 1

Find out what stage 1 stomach cancer means and about treatment options.

The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and how far it’s spread. It helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.

There are 2 staging systems. Doctors can use a numbers system or the TNM system to stage your cancer.

TNM stands for tumour, node and metastasis: 

  • T describes the size of the tumour
  • N describes whether there are any cancer cells in the lymph nodes
  • M describes whether the cancer has spread to a different part of the body

Stage 1 is part of the number staging system. It means that your cancer has grown further than the lining of the stomach. It may have grown into the muscle wall and there may be cancer cells in the lymph nodes. It hasn’t spread to other organs.

Stage 1A

Stage 1A means the cancer has grown no further than the lining of the stomach. There is no cancer in the lymph nodes. This is the same as T1, N0, M0 in the TNM staging system.

stomach cancer stage 1a.png

Stage 1B

Stage 1B means one of the following:

  • the cancer is still within the stomach lining, but there are cancer cells in the nearby 1 or 2 nearby lymph nodes - this is the same as T1, N1, M0.
stomach cancer stage 1b.png
  • there are no cancer cells in the lymph nodes, but the cancer has grown into the muscle of the stomach wall - this is the same as T2, N0, M0
stomach cancer stage 1b 1 .png


The stage of your cancer helps your doctor to decide what treatment you need. Treatment also depends on:

  • your type of cancer (the type of cells the cancer started in)
  • where the cancer is in your stomach
  • other health conditions


Surgery is the main treatment for stage 1 cancer.

For stage 1A cancer your surgeon may be able to remove the cancer from the lining of the stomach. You have this surgery through a thin flexible tube, an endoscope or you may need surgery to remove part or all of your stomach.

For stage 1B, you may have chemotherapy before and after surgery to lower the chance of the cancer coming back.

You may have chemotherapy after your operation if you haven’t had any treatment before your surgery.

Other health problems may mean you can’t have surgery, or you may decide you don’t want it. You will have tests to check how fit you are before you have any treatment including heart and lung tests.

Treatment may include chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or a combination of these if you can’t have surgery.

Talk to your doctor about your options.

About other stages

Last reviewed: 
19 Jul 2016
  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (8th Edition)
    M Amin and S Edge.
    Springer, 2017.

  • Gastric cancer: ESMO-ESSO-ESTRO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    Waddell t. (and others)
    Annals of Oncology 24. 2013. (Supplement 6) vi57-vI63

  • Gastric cancer
    Custem EV. (and others)
    The Lancet, 2016. 5th May S0140-6736(16)30354-3

  • Guidelines for the management of oesophageal and gastric cancer
    Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, the British Society of Gastroenterology and the British Association of Surgical Oncology
    Allum (and others)
    Gut 2011;60:1449-1472

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